Blue Jays: Stroman in 2017 vs. Sanchez in 2016

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Marcus Stroman
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Marcus Stroman /

The Blue Jays have had a disappointing season overall from their rotation, but Marcus Stroman has been anything but in 2017. As the club closes in on the end of the campaign, how does his performance this year stack up against Aaron Sanchez’s from last year?

In 2016, the Blue Jays had one of the best rotations they’ve ever fielded during their franchise history. J.A. Happ continued to be a bargain, Marco Estrada was excellent around his back issues, R.A. Dickey and Francisco Liriano combined for a very solid #5 starter, Marcus Stroman had an excellent second half, and Aaron Sanchez lead the American League in ERA.

This year has been much different, Sanchez missed all but eight starts, Happ spent time on the disabled list, Estrada was inconsistent, and Liriano was mostly brutal before being traded to the Houston Astros at the non-waiver deadline. The one pitcher who lived up to his billing, and then some, was Marcus Stroman.

As of now, the “Stro-Show” is 11-8 with a 3.08 ERA, good for 4th in the American League. He’s earned 5.4 WAR, and he’s poised to surpass the 200 innings pitched mark for the second time in his career. Looking at the American League pitching leaderboards, his name is all over the place, which is a great sign for the 26 year old.

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Looking back at 2016, I think it’s safe to say there were many of us who didn’t appreciate just how good Stroman was. He struggled in the first half of last season, and with the performances of Happ, Estrada, and Sanchez, it was easy to lose him in the shuffle. That is no longer the case.

The charismatic pitcher has been a god send for the team this year, if for no other reason than he’s been their most reliable starter, and in my opinion, an underrated one at that. As the team entered spring training, Aaron Sanchez was the pitcher that garnered the most excitement, which made sense after he had dominated in his first full year as a starter in the big leagues.

As I reviewed the stats from 2016, and 2017, I found that Stroman’s performance this year was oddly similar to what Sanchez accomplished last season, when the latter finished 7th in AL Cy Young voting. Let’s have a look:

Stroman (2017)– 11-8, 3.08 ERA, 184.1 IP, 1.307 WHIP, 155 K’s, SO/9- 7.6

Sanchez (2016)– 15-2, 3.00 ERA, 192.0 IP, 1.167 WHIP, 161 K’s SO/9-7.5

Obviously we could go further down the rabbit hole in looking at advanced stats, but that doesn’t look all that different, does it?

Granted, Sanchez had inning restrictions in 2016, but he still managed to throw 192 innings, even while being handled with kid gloves. Many of us were expecting him to take another step forward, and likely even contend for the Cy Young award, but instead fingernail/blister/ligament issues derailed his season, and his momentum.

That’s not to say that he won’t return and be a dominant force again next season, but in the mean time let’s focus on what we do know: Marcus Stroman is a top of the rotation starter. If Sanchez can return to health, the Blue Jays will be blessed with one of the best dynamic duos in baseball, especially when considering their age, contract status, and of course, talent.

When I think back to the excitement about Sanchez heading into this season, I wonder why the narrative isn’t a little more in Stroman’s favour after what’s he’s done on the field this year. Sanchez’s record was sparkling at 15-2, but in the modern game most scouts and front office’s don’t focus on record in the same way, and we all know Marcus should have a few more in the win column if not for some blown leads.

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Other than that, their numbers are very similar, and I think it’s fair to say that Stroman will be receiving some Cy Young votes, just as Sanchez did in 2016. In an ideal world, they’ll both be healthy and will lead the 2018 version of the rotation back to playoff contention, and even better, push each other to the limits of their potential.