Top Moments of 2014: The kid that could
#7-The year of Marcus Stroman
2014 was a year of uncertainty for the Jays starting rotation. Automatically engrained in it were veterans R.A Dickey and Mark Buehrle but from there, uncertainty was the word most often attributed to the Jays starting rotation.
Drew Hutchison was coming off an impressive spring training after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, J.A Happ had a chance at cracking a spot in the rotation and Brandon Morrow was continuing his quest to solidify himself as a healthy starter in Major League Baseball.
Thus, a hole presented itself for the first-round 2012 draft pick to disprove the plethora of scouts who discounted him because of his small 5’9″ frame. After a short, unsuccessful run in the bullpen, followed by a rebirth in AAA Buffalo, Stroman did just that. He not only solidified himself within the Jays rotation for 2015 and most likely beyond, Stroman cemented himself as one of the cornerstones of the Jays franchise.
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After a disappointing bullpen stint with the Jays, tossing 10 and a third of innings to the tune of a 7.84 ERA, Stroman found himself through a more open and inclusive arsenal, including one of his most dominant pitches, the new-found two-seam fastball.
Using his new and improved fastball, Stroman dominated hitters. Especially those dawning the Chicago Cubs uniform on the night of Sept. 9th at the Roger Centre. That night, Stroman tossed arguably the game of the season, pitching a complete game, allowing three hits on a mere 93 pitches.
Sept.9th wasn’t the only night Stroman’s two-seamer seemed unhittable. On the season, Stroman held batters to a .207 batting-average using the sinker, his fifth most used pitch on the season. Since increasing his reliance on the sinker in a game against the Texas Rangers on July 19th, Stroman’s success has only become more apparent. His ERA in that time frame dropped to an impressive 3.50- inflated by a terrible August- with his ERA on the season concluding at 3.65.
While some would argue his 3.65 ERA isn’t all that impressive, beneath the surface lie more impressive and possibly more revealing statistics. His FIP- Fielding Independent Pitching- on the season, rides at a comfortable 2.84 and his ERA as a starter on the season sits at 3.24, both pointing to more success in the 2015 season.
In a year where pitching was all but consistent, the Jays managed to cash in on one of their blue-chip prospects for some 130 remarkable innings. While he will likely be on an inning limit in 2015, Stroman has the chance to take yet another step forward to being a top pitcher within one of the leagues youngest evolving rotations.