While it’s admirable that Marcus Stroman works as hard as he does to stay on the field, this time he and the Blue Jays need to exercise some patience.
Last season’s starting rotation was a virtual disaster, which came as a surprise after an effective and relatively injury free 2016 from pretty much the same group. The lone exception of course was Marcus Stroman, who finished the season 4th in the American League in ERA at 3.09, topping 200 innings for the second straight season and earning an impressive 5.8 bWAR.
While it was a satisfying year for the former Duke University product, he’s been pretty active on social media promoting his offseason work, and his goals of bigger and better things on the field. He won’t turn 27 until May 1st, so it’s entirely possible that we haven’t witnessed his best work yet, something Stroman firmly believes to be the case as well.
And for those reasons and more, the last thing the reigning Gold Glove winner wants to do is start the season on the disabled list, which is a real possibility at this stage of spring training. As you’ve likely read by now, he was shut down with shoulder inflammation on Feb 27th, and just resumed throwing long toss on the weekend. According to a tweet from Hazel Mae, he’s expected to throw off a mound on Monday, and hopefully pitch in a minor league game next week as well.
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While it’s encouraging to hear that the set back appears to be minor, I’d still argue that the Blue Jays should treat this with as much or more patience as they exercised with Aaron Sanchez‘s blister issues last season. It was incredibly frustrating to have Sanchez on the sidelines last year, but hopefully by giving him that extended rest and continuing to work on new grips or whatever is working thus far (knock on wood), he can put the issues behind him.
This isn’t a blister issue for Stroman that we’re talking about though. Shoulder inflammation can be a result of a variety of things, and is a common occurrence for pitchers when they get going in March. However, it can also be an early sign of arm troubles, something that the former first round pick has been lucky enough to avoid in his young career.
He has dealt with a fully torn ACL though, something he tweeted about just two days ago. It was a great reminder of the determination he showed in getting back to the team before the regular season had ended, something that was thought to be nearly impossible when he was first injured. He also came through in a big way for the Blue Jays that season, providing some key starts in September and into the playoffs.
All of that is reason to believe in Stroman’s ability to get himself prepared, and I’m not suggesting for a minute that we should expect anything else. What I am saying though, is there is no reason to start his season on time, and that there is no harm in missing a start or two to begin the year. I’m confident that’s the second last thing Stroman wants to see happen, but the last thing would be an injury, which is why his situation should be handled with caution.
With the presence of Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Jaime Garcia, and even Joe Biagini, Stroman can afford to give it an extra week or two in order to stretch out and properly prepare his body. He may not like it, but it’s what’s best for the Blue Jays and for the pitcher. I’m generally a proponent of seeing guys push themselves to stay on the field, but when you’re talking about arguably the most valuable player currently on the big league roster, then you exercise some additional restraint.
While I admire Stroman’s desire to work his way back on time to start the season, I hope all parties involved look at the big picture and proceed with caution.