Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman is exciting in every aspect of his game- from his wild and crazy hair, his flare after each and every strikeout, even down to his social media accounts. You can tell Marcus loves pitching for the Blue Jays. Stroman had a bumpy year health-wise, but yet again impressed us when he took the mound at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
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Even though Stroman only started twenty games in 2014, the positive impact he’s made in his short time with Toronto was apparent on June 7th, “Marcus Stroman Bobblehead Day”. Tens of thousands of fans lined up for that Sunday game because Marcus was in town, and the fans were excited. Before the start of the game, Marcus walked up and down the foul line singing autographs for all the fans who came out to get his bobblehead. A mob of people jumping over rows of seats followed Marcus, just to get an autograph from a kid who had only started twenty games the year before. Blue Jays fans know Marcus is special. He’s exciting and flashy, but has the game to back it up!
After Stroman’s stellar rookie season, (3.65ERA, 130.2IP, 3.0WAR, 1.17 WHIP) he would establish himself as the clear number one starter on the Blue Jays entering the 2015 season. After an offseason where the Blue Jays received more offensive power upgrades with Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, fans were excited at the potential of seeing Marcus Stroman for an entire season as their number one starter. Those dreams would be put to a sudden halt when Stroman tore his ACL during a fielding drill in Spring Training.
The Jays would shift Aaron Sanchez into the fifth starter’s role. Stroman would go back to his alma mater, Duke University, to finish his degree while rehabbing his knee. Shattering recovery times during his rehab, Stroman would return to the Blue Jays starting rotation for the end of September and the playoffs.
Stroman’s 2015 was nothing short of amazing. The storyline of Stroman’s return paralleled the story of the 2015 Blue Jays season. When Stroman returned, he would move right back into his starting role, appearing in four games, going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a 0.96WHIP. His exclamation point came with his start on September 30th against the Orioles, where Marcus pitched 8 innings, striking out 8 and only allowing one run.
This performance would not only be Stroman’s best of the year, but would allow the Blue Jays to clinch their first division title since 1993. The addition of Stroman in September was almost like a second trade deadline. Entering the playoffs with the one-two punch of David Price and Stroman, Jays fans had faith that their starting rotation could match any other playoff team.
Even though Stroman started only four regular season games, his progress as a potential ace is apparent. Although 2015 might be a small sample size, the numbers Stroman put up in that stretch was impressive. The best part of Stroman is how bright his future is. Stroman this year showed us when he tore his ACL, that when facing adversity, he has the work ethic to persevere through situations for the better of his team. Stroman’s progression from year to year will continue to impress Blue Jays fans, as this pitcher hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.
Unfortunately in all sports, injuries happen and every team has to deal with them. Sports doctors are just scratching the surface when it comes to preventing injuries in the future. Pointing to any faults in Stroman’s year is pretty tough. The fact that we even saw Stroman take the mound after tearing his ACL is amazing in itself.
Stroman’s career with the Blue Jays is just beginning. He has the potential to be a future ace for the Blue Jays. With his pitch repertoire up to six pitches now (fourseam fastball, sinker, slider, cutter, and curveball), expect Stroman to be able to mix up his pitches more frequently during the second and third times through the lineup. His ability to mix up six electric strikeout pitches will allow Stroman to pitch deeper into games, thus solidifying his ace status. In 2016, all Blue Jays fans will be excited to see what they wanted to see at the end of the 2014 season — a full year of Stroman on the mound.
Stats Provided by Fangraphs