Jays From the Couch looks into the early struggles Marcus Stroman has seen to start the 2018 season.
Marcus Stroman is one of the better pitchers in baseball. He works harder than most and plays with more passion that even more. But, his start to the 2018 season has not been quite up to expectations. His latest start against the Texas Rangers features evidence of this.
On Friday evening, he gave up six earned runs in 5.1 innings of work. The six runs came off eight hits. If you look at all of his starts this season, the Stro Show has been a hit…for the opposition. He’s given up hit totals of 3, 6, 9, 5 and 8 in his five starts.
More disturbing than just total number of hits per game is the manner in which he’s been hit. In short, Stroman is being hit harder this year. Consider this: in 2017, the average exit velocity of hits off Stroman was 88.5 mph, good for 102nd in MLB. In 2018, it has climbed to 92.8, which puts him 17th. This year, he’s giving up 7.4 Brls/PA where last season saw 3.7 Brls/PA.
In 2018, he’s giving up 48.8% hard contact this year, a jump of 17.4%. Both his medium and soft contact rates have gone down, with medium taking the biggest hit. He’s always relied on the softer contact to get his groundball outs. His GB% is actually still robust this year at 65%, but his GB/FB rate has climbed to 3.71. More disturbing is the jump in HR/FB rate from 17.8% in 2017 to 21.4% this year.
According to Pitch Info on Fangraphs, Stro’s fastball velocity is down 1 mph, his cutter is down ~2 mph, his sinker is down 1 mph and his slider is about the same. The values for all of his offerings are way down across the board. His fastball had a wFB mark of 7.2 in 2017. It’s at -3.0 in 2018. His wSL has dropped from 10.9 to -2.0. The results off his bread and butter offerings just have not been there this year.
The bottom image from Brooks Baseball shows the increased success that batters are having against Stroman’s repertoire. The success against the fastball jumps out. The change and slider both show an increase in hitter’s success as well. He seems to be using the slider (27.6%) and the change (7.3%) more this season, which may be something he reconsiders moving forward.
Early on in a season, it can be understandable if a pitcher doesn’t quite have the “feel” for their pitches. Stroman also missed some time this spring, so it could also make sense that he is a little late in his preparation for the season.
That said, his current ERA of 8.88 suggests that some work is needed. Marcus Stroman is better than what we have seen thus far in 2018. A guy who relies on softer contact to get his groundballs cannot continue to be hit so hard, especially if he is walking batters at nearly twice the rate he did last season (12.3% from 7.4%). He’s finding it harder to be in the strike zone and he is getting hit harder than he ever has.
This is not a recipe for success. However, we know that Marcus Stroman puts in more hours than most people. He is continuously working. That’s a good thing, because he certainly has a way to go to return to form.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.