Toronto Blue Jays season preview: Marcus Stroman


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Since entering the Major Leagues in 2014, Marcus Stroman has not only defied expectations and become a legitimate starting pitcher (the jury is still out on the ace part), but also become a superstar in the city he has come to call home.

Stroman has always had his doubters, mainly due to his small stature (listed at a generous 5′ 9″ and 185 lbs), but he has constantly persevered and broken through the barriers imposed on him by others. By following his own trademarked motto of “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart”, Stroman has turned hard work into the beginnings of what will be a special career.

2015 Performance Recap

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This past season was supposed to be Stroman’s coming out party, but all that changed on what fateful day in Dunedin. On March 20th Stroman was running a routine fielding drill with some of his teammates, and with one awkward twist of his knee, his season was over. Or so we all thought.

After being told he would be done for the season (not something that an absolute competitor like Stroman takes lightly), Stroman vowed to defy those odds. And after putting in a gruelling rehab at Duke University, while simultaneously completing his unfinished degree, he finally completed the seemingly impossible comeback.

And after making his season debut on September 12th, Stroman went on to post 27 innings in his four regular season games, to go along with a tidy ERA of 1.67 .

On top of the regular season starts the Blue Jays got from Stroman that they never thought they would, he would go on to put a cherry on top of it all with by pitching valiantly (although not as dominant as his previous starts) in three postseason games.

2016 Role and Steamer Projections

While Marcus Stroman had his last Opening Day start erased by a freak injury, the Blue Jays have him pegged to try again for it this year. With that start comes the label of “staff ace”. And although he has exceeded every other expectation put upon him, this one will be the toughest of them all, as this time he will be trying to reach high expectations instead of trying to beat the lower expectations put on him so far in his career.

As we all know Steamer projections tend to be a bit on the cautious side. So when reading the mediocre projections of a 3.66 ERA for Stroman, it is easy to let the mind wander and imagine how much more he could achieve. So I say, throw the projections out the window, and get ready for a wild ride.

What Could Go Wrong?

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While many players that lose almost a full year to injury tend to come back to expectations that they may have lost a year of development, after watching Stroman pitch down the stretch last year, I think it is fair to put those doubts to bed.

But losing all that time will still have some effect. After pitching 130.2 innings in 2014, Stroman will need to ramp it back up. Because with expectations of leading the staff always come the expectations to pitch 200 innings. And for a pitcher coming off a major injury, and one of a smaller stature, it is fair to wonder how durable he may be in the upcoming season.

Steamer has him pegged for 193 innings, that number could easily come in lower. And with the wear and tear of an increased workload comes the increased risk of injury.

So while it doesn’t seem like Stroman’s abilities will hold him back in any way, it is worth keeping an eye on how he holds out over his first full season in the bigs.

What Could Go Right?

As many seem to be expecting, a lot could go right. Marcus Stroman could grab that ace label and run to the moon with it.

With an ever-evolving fastball (he has toyed with a two-seamer and a slider/cutter hybrid in the last couple years), devastating breaking ball and absolute nose for winning, it seems like he could launch himself into the stratosphere and become the superstar in baseball as he seems to already be in life off the diamond.

And while he has always kept his control reeled in with minimal walks (career BB/9 of 1.94), his strikeouts have not been up to what would foresee for someone with such an impressive arsenal. So look for Stroman to take that next step in his evolution into a top of the line pitcher by really racking up the K’s in 2016.

Next: Blue Jays advantages of the botched Bruce deal

The Bottom Line

Toronto Blue Jays fans will want the world from Marcus Stroman in this coming season. But that may not be fair. This is a young man coming off a seriously trying year with a ton of missed time.

So let’s try to keep our expectations realistic. But that is not to say this won’t be Stroman’s year. I have every belief that one day when people name off the greatest Blue Jays pitchers of all time it will go something like this: Stieb, Henke, Halladay, Stroman.