Estrada in Game 1 as Blue Jays set rotation

Sanchez, Happ follow righty; Stroman starts Game 4 if necessary

Estrada in Game 1 as Blue Jays set rotation

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays set their rotation for the first three games of the American League Division Series, with manager John Gibbons keeping his pitchers on turn and tabbing right-hander Marco Estrada for Game 1 on Thursday at Globe Life Park.

Estrada, who will be opposed by Rangers lefty Cole Hamels, will be followed by lefty J.A. Happ and righty Aaron Sanchez. Should there be a Game 4, Marcus Stroman -- who started Tuesday night's AL Wild Card Game win over Baltimore -- will take the hill. Game 1 starts at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT on TBS, as well as Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) in Canada.

"If you keep them in line, we feel good about them all," Gibbons said. "That's a big part of our strength is our starting rotation. And we've managed the last couple of months to keep them all rested."

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 TOR 10, TEX 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 TOR 5 TEX 3 video
Gm 3 Oct. 9 TOR 7, TEX 6 (10) video

But it was Estrada who struggled when the Blue Jays went to a six-man rotation and he got extra rest. The right-hander posted a 5.14 ERA in five starts on six or more days' rest, compared to a 3.95 ERA with five days' rest and a 2.52 ERA with four.

Despite working on six days' rest, Estrada -- who last pitched Friday against Boston -- said he didn't make any specific adjustments heading into Game 1.

"I'm not sure if that's what's really affected me, could have just been a coincidence. I just started struggling during that time. And obviously things didn't go too well," said Estrada, who went 9-9 with a 3.48 ERA in his first All-Star season.

"But kind of seemed to have figured things out lately and I've been doing things much better since we got back to normal. You add an extra day, it's not going to change anything. So, I've done everything I'm supposed to do up to date and I'm ready to go [Thursday]."

Estrada will be making his fourth career postseason start and is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in seven playoff games. He beat Texas in the ALDS last year, allowing just one run over 6 1/3 innings. Estrada also started twice against the Royals in the AL Championship Series, allowing four earned runs over 13 innings (2.70 ERA).

Estrada on improving changeup

The 33-year-old faced the Rangers twice this season, pitching to a 3.75 ERA, including a no-decision in Texas in which he allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over six innings. And while Texas has since added pieces, such as Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, Estrada said it doesn't matter.

"I feel the same about this lineup that I felt about any other lineup. Nothing changes for me, to be honest with you," said Estrada, who is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA against Texas in four career games.

"And I go off of basically what I've done against them in the past. Guys like Lucroy or Gomez, I haven't really faced them. So we'll see what we throw at them. But other than that, everyone seems to be the same. And, I don't really pay attention to that stuff. I try to follow swings more often than anything else."

Brittany Ghiroli has worked for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.