After battling injury in 2018, early indications are that Marcus Stroman has returned to his old effective self, which could make things interesting for the Blue Jays.
The Toronto Blue Jays are in a weird spot lately. The offense has been awful. Like, literally bad. There is no way to even sugar coat it, no way to make it sound positive. In fact, what makes it that much worse is that the pitching has been rather good to start the season. I mean, who foretold the start that Matt Shoemaker has had? It has been a pleasant surprise. And, this season will require as many of those as we can get.
For instance, take the first three starts by Marcus Stroman. We heard this spring that he was feeling healthy and over any injuries that caused him issues last season. Obviously, that would be good news, since his 2018 was rather disappointing. After making 32 and 33 starts in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Stroman managed just 19 last year. He was dealing with blisters and a shoulder issue, which very likely explains the career high 5.54 ERA, the inflated walk rate and deflated strike out rate, as well as the career low LOB% of 60.5%. So, a return to health could only help him.
The results thus far in 2019 have been great. His ERA sits at a rather nice 2.41, complimented by a FIP of 2.04, a more respectable K% of 24.3% (though, all of MLB is seeing hitters striking out at break neck speed), a 1.23 WHIP (a drop of .25 from last year). The somewhat odd thing about his 3 starts is that his BABIP is the highest of his big league career: .340.
We know that Marcus Stroman is not a leading candidate to toss a perfect game. He’ll give up some hits, many of which he can erase with a double play ground ball as he is always near the top of the league in GB%. But, he will surrender hits and can miss the strike zone. We’ve seen it happen many times. However, so far in 2019, he has given up 17 hits and 6 walks in 18.2 innings. It’s not stellar, by any means, but it is effective. As well, it has to be said that we’re talking about three starts and 18.2 innings. The sample is not exactly large, here.
However, Marcus Stroman is showing signs of his old self. He’s averaging six innings per start and is limiting damage, as evidenced by his five lone earned runs surrendered. If he can continue this type of performance, then things could get very interesting for the Blue Jays’ front office.
Do they look at possibly flipping him at the Trade Deadline? They had been listening to calls this offseason. His value would certainly be higher since he would have put question marks to rest (assuming his 2019 start is for real). Surely, he would fetch a rather nice return in July. But, if that is the case, it would mean that GM, Ross Atkins, looks at his depth charts and feels comfortable with the starting pitching that he finds. That is likely not the case since guys like Shoemaker and Clay Buchholz were brought in. So, maybe an extension is in order. By the time July rolls around, the club will have enough time to say whether or not this is the real Stroman. If they buy into it, they could literally buy into it at the end of the season and offer a contract extension to the guy who will tell the world how much he loves Toronto and wants to stay.
Of course, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, here. It is not even the middle of April and we’ve only seen 18 innings of the StroShow. All we really know is that it has been good watching. Time will tell if it is reality TV.
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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.