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Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman looks to get on track against Cleveland

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Marcus Stroman
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Marcus Stroman /
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The Blue Jays will open a series in Cleveland on Friday, and Marcus Stroman will hope to get things trending in the right direction for 2018.

We’re extremely early in the 2018 season, so there is no need to read too much into early performances from anyone, especially a starting pitcher who has made just two appearances. That’s where things are at for Marcus Stroman, arguably the Blue Jays’ top starter entering the new campaign.

Stroman had a health hiccup during spring training, taking some time to rest from shoulder inflammation, but ultimately working through the issue and starting the season on time. On time, except that he didn’t get the Opening Day start as he’d hoped to, mostly because he didn’t have the time to build up his arm strength before March 29th.

I’ve wondered a bit if he was fully ready to make that fourth start of the season, as his Grapefruit schedule was abbreviated. I have no idea if that has been a contributing factor in his early struggles, but so far he hasn’t been the ace that he, or Blue Jays fans had hoped for in his first two starts.

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In his first start against the Yankees, he gave up four earned runs in five innings. He only gave up three hits and three walks, striking out eight, but it wasn’t quite the way he wanted to get things started, and he only threw 85 pitches in the no decision.

In start number two, he couldn’t get through the fifth inning, giving up five earned runs in just 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and walking five against the Texas Rangers. He did manage to get his pitch count up to 95, but that was a small consolation on a rough night on the bump, taking his first loss of the season.

As rough as the start of a new campaign has been, it’s only been two starts and there is nothing to panic about by any means. He won’t have to wait much longer to get things on track either, as he is the scheduled starter against the Cleveland Indians for tonight’s series opener.

It won’t be an easy task by any means, but Stroman has shown a propensity for pitching well in big games, and I can’t imagine he won’t get up for this contest. Cleveland knocked the Blue Jays out of the ALCS in 2016 and lost in the ALDS against the Yankees last year, finishing first in the AL Central both seasons. They’re expected to be a real contender for the World Series again this year, and they employ former Blue Jay legend, Edwin Encarnacion as well. There are plenty of reasons for the Stro’ show to be motivated, and it doesn’t take much to get him focused.

Also, don’t kid yourself, he sees that 8.38 ERA and 1.759 WHIP through his first two starts, and even though it’s ridiculously early this sorta thing matters to a guy like Stroman. A good turn in the rotation will go a long way to righting the ship, and he’ll square off against Mike Clevinger with the first pitch at 7:10 PM EST. It’s a tough match-up for the 26 year old, but expect him to bring his best for the Friday night contest.

Next: Donaldson still dealing with "dead arm" issue

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