Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays biggest potential trade deadline addition: The real Marcus Stroman

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Apr 3, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) reacts as he is taken out of the game during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) reacts as he is taken out of the game during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays’ ace entering the season, Marcus Stroman has pitched well in three of his past four starts

Marcus Stroman’s season has not gone as planned for the Blue Jays. The opening day starter has needed a recent burst of strong pitching – excluding Oakland – to bring his season ERA back below a 5.00.

In doing so, however, the ability of Stroman to move beyond his first-half struggles and pitch closer to his expected ERA could be as valuable to the Blue Jays as any trade addition leading up the MLB trade deadline on August 1st.

The deadline is about net gains. Instead of adding a pitcher’s entire value to a spot where none existed, a trade addition’s value is the difference between their performance and the pitcher they are replacing. If a 4.00 ERA pitcher replaces a 5.00 ERA pitcher, for example, the team received one less run against per nine innings for their prospect capital.

Drawing a hard line through the season, the Marcus Stroman of ‘old’ owns a 4.90 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP and an opponent batting average of .274. Those are the statistics of a pitcher typically replaced by an external addition, but in Stroman’s case, he can be that addition himself.

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Coming off eight innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks where Stroman worked efficiently and commanded the lower third of the strike zone, he has now taken strides in three of his past four starts. In a stretch-the-definition kind of way, the real Marcus Stroman can be the Blue Jays’ biggest addition from this point in the season on.

The quartet of Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ and R.A. Dickey have combined to far exceed expectations. Blue Jays starters currently sit sixth in Major League Baseball with an ERA of 3.68, just narrowly behind the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians. Toronto starters still lead the league in innings pitched, as well.

All of this has been done while their opening day starter holds the highest ERA in the rotation.

The situation with Aaron Sanchez could eventually threaten the rotation’s strength, but with him showing no sign of wearing down and R.A. Dickey poised to continue another one of his quiet second-half runs, Stroman could very conceivably elevate the Toronto rotation to a different level.

With his current 4.90 ERA as a starting point, it’s entirely possible that Stroman pitches to a 3.40 ERA in his remaining starts. Shaving one and a half runs per nine innings, or at least one per start, would be considered a success in the vast majority of pitching deals.

Now of course, there’s an “easy way out” ring to this. Each season, general managers around baseball declare that “[Player who’s just returned from injury] is a deadline addition itself,” but there is still plenty of room to be made around Stroman.

A depth starter still looks to be a logical fit given the lack of certainty behind Drew Hutchison, who is next in line should Sanchez finally make his bullpen move. The bullpen could also be addressed, with little certainty from the left side and the still-ongoing struggles of Drew Storen.

In the starting five, however, with some marginal improvements from Dickey able to offset a slight regression elsewhere, the 25-year-old Stroman has an opportunity to jolt the club forward. If he can do that, his first 20 starts won’t matter.

Next: Reid-Foley the Blue Jays new number one prospect?

Twitter:  @KeeganMatheson
@JaysJournal

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