Jays From the Couch brings you the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Highlights & Lowlights for starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman.
The past season could be classified as a time of learning and adjustment for the young, Marcus Stroman. With the memories of his remarkable comeback of 2015 fresh in mind, he broke camp in Dunedin with hopes of continuing his push to be a frontline major league starter. Unfortunately, for the Long Island native, inconsistency would be the story for most of 2016. For better or for worse his season could be broken down into three segments that saw him go from decent, to terrible, to pretty good. Fortunately, for Stroman and the Blue Jays, the very good came in the latter months of the season when they needed him most.
Despite his season of ups and downs Stroman had a lot of excellent moments throughout the season. His personal goals of 30+ starts and 200 IP, were accomplished. Which is no small feat considering there were only 15 pitchers in all of MLB that were able to accomplish both this past season. The downside was he and Chris Archer were the only two pitchers to do so with an ERA north of four.
Personally, the biggest accomplishment for Stroman was his ability and willingness to change his approach midseason when things weren’t going as planned. With some assistance from pitching coach Pete Walker the pair were able to pinpoint some mechanical issues that had been causing his inconsistencies. The commitment to these changes helped drop his ERA from a season high after 16 starts of 5.33, down to 4.37 by season’s end.
Part of his turnaround was this start against the Astros in August. Despite the team losing the game his 7.0 IP, 3H and 13K helped him tie his highest game score of the season with a 79.
Stroman’s final highlight of the season came in the Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. In the face of much scrutiny from the media and fans, John Gibbons, handed the ball to Stroman based on his ability to show up in big moments. Once again he delivered by putting together a strong 6IP, 2ER performance, that help set up a dramatic extra-innings walk-off win.
The lowest part of the season for the diminutive right-hander came in an eight start segment from May 17 to June 26. His struggles saw him put together only two quality starts during this time while posting a 7.54 ERA. During this time he averaged 5.2 IP/start, while surrendering 67 hits with opposing teams slashing 353/407/568, over 45.1 innings. Though not ideal, Toronto, did manage to go 3-5 over these eight starts to help mitigate a potential disaster.
Perhaps the most concerning revelation to come from his 2016 season was his inability to get through opposing lineups more than twice. With opposing teams slugging .515 the third time through the order, and .607 the fourth time through the order, turning the game over to the bullpen became paramount.
His late game struggles lead him to posting only 18 quality starts out of 32, for a quality start ratio of 56%, the lowest percentage among American League starters who posted at least 200IP in 2016.
This may be best suited for a much longer conversation but, after witnessing every start this season, it became apparent Stroman needs to work on developing the third pitch in his arsenal. Granted he does have several variations of his two pitches at his disposal, however, the one pitch he seems to be missing is his changeup. Whether it was a total lack of confidence, or a concerted effort on behalf of the team to limit its use, it was a pitch only used 5% of the time. Given his late game struggles, I would look for him to work hard on getting his changeup up-to-par this offseason in order to give hitters a new to look in 2017.
On a different note, with the upcoming offseason for the Blue Jays being one of change, there is no doubt we will here Stroman’s name in many trade scenarios. Since he is controllable, and relatively cheap by baseball standards, there are an abundance of teams who would covet his services. Given the payroll uncertainties, these are also the very reasons to believe that he may stay put in Toronto’s rotation.