Blue Jays: Stroman Shows Flashes of Brilliance in Season Debut
Before the thrilling grand slam off the bat of Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman made his season debut Sunday. He was touched up for four earned runs but showed some good command and excellent movement.
He’s not actually the fourth starter, but on the first rotation of the season, Marcus Stroman is the fourth starter. On Sunday, he took the mound for the first time in 2018, facing the juggernaut New York Yankees to close out a four game weekend series.
Overall, Stro’ didn’t fare so well. Through five innings, he was touched up for four runs on three hits, striking out eight. The big blow came in the third inning when Brandon Drury took Stroman deep with a man on for his first blast as a Yankee.
Even though Stroman walked three, he fanned Aaron Judge twice and got Giancarlo Stanton swinging, effectively taking the sting out of the sluggers’ bats in his first outing. His sinker had tremendous movement and he was in command for the majority of the afternoon.
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Strikeouts bring with them an elevated pitch count, which is exactly what cut Stro’s outing short. Through four innings, he threw 76 pitches. Luckily, the Jays’ bullpen was excellent, holding the Yanks to just two hits through four combined innings of work from Danny Barnes, John Axford, Tyler Clippard, who earned the win, and Seung-hwan Oh, who earned the save.
Although offence ruled this game, Stroman’s pitching is to be looked at as well. Despite the four spot put up against him, he looked dominant for most of the early innings. He was hitting his spots and seemed to be on the same page as Russell Martin. All three hits he gave up came in the dreadful fourth inning and were all solid, hard hit balls.
It might not have been the start many were expecting from the ebullient young starter, but he kept the Jays in it, shutting the door when necessary and giving them decent length despite an elevated pitch count.
Next time, we’ll have to see how he fares. His next scheduled start is April 7th in Arlington against the Rangers. Here’s hoping he’ll be able to keep the pitch count low and keep the ball in the yard.