After a breakout 2015 season in the Blue Jays' rotation, Marco Estrada will make his highly-anticipated debut on Sunday when the Blue Jays conclude their home-opening series against the Red Sox.
Estrada injured his back early in camp and started the season on the disabled list. The 32-year-old was a vital cog in Toronto's rotation last season, going 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in 34 appearances, 28 of which were starts. The Blue Jays rewarded Estrada with a two-year contract worth $26 million this offseason.
Boston will counter with knuckleballer Steven Wright, who won the fifth spot in the rotation after a strong Spring Training. Along with Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey, Wright is the only other knuckleball pitcher in the Major Leagues.
"When he's not playing us, I'm hoping that he's dominant, because the more people that see that pitch being dominant, the more respect guys who throw that pitch will get," said Dickey."The more success that knuckleballers have, the more trustworthy that pitch becomes. Psychology plays into it, as well. It's helpful when he does well."
Three things to know about this game:
• Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo got their first starts of the season on Saturday for Boston, and reserve outfielder Chris Young will be in the lineup on Sunday against Estrada. It will be Young's first start of the season for the Red Sox, as the veteran outfielder was acquired primarily to face left-handed pitchers.
• After a day off on Saturday, David Ortiz will look to continue his hot start on Sunday. Ortiz has the most homers (59), doubles (64), extra-base hits (125) and RBIs (181) against Toronto of any opponent in Blue Jays history.
• Expect Blue Jays regular third baseman Josh Donaldson to once again start at DH on Sunday. The 2015 American League MVP has been nursing a sore right calf, and is expected to return to the hot corner against the Yankees on Tuesday.