After news dropped that Josh Johnson‘s Toronto Blue Jays tenure was officially (mercifully) coming to an end with his decision to sign a deal with the San Diego Padres, the realization that the Jays are in desperate need of an upgrade in the starting rotation once again consumed Blue Jays fans after a week of fantasizing about J.P. Arencibia‘s departure.
While the Jays have been linked to a number of free agent pitchers such as Scott Kazmir, Ubaldo Jiminez, and countless others that don’t really get anyone excited, the true saviour of the rotation may actually already be in the organization. No, we’re not interested in moving Brett Cecil to starter, we’re talking about uber prospect Marcus Stroman.
Stroman, who has absolutely mowed down minor league hitters since joining the Blue Jays organization following his selection in the first round of the MLB draft has been receiving glowing reviews from all corners of the interwebs. Most recently, Kyle Boddy of Hardball Talk chimed in, busting myths around Stroman’s alleged inability to withstand the rigors of a starting job due to his diminutive stature.
Stroman had a monstrous 2013, in which he pitched 111.2 innings, racking up 129 strikeouts against just 27 walks while allowing just 99 hits at Double-A New Hampshire. Projection systems equate those as a Major League Equivalency of 112 H, 35 BB, 117 K, which is to say, quite good.
The piece is really worth a read, and I highly recommend you go and do so (like right now), but if my recommendation isn’t enough to get you to click, perhaps Mr. Boddy’s conclusion will whet your appetite.
I assume that Stroman will spend a few months in Triple-A in 2014 with the idea of delaying his service time in addition to getting him some extra work as a starter. Not that he really needs it.
My bet is on him proving that the detractors who talked him down in 2012 were wrong. His stuff and his command were comparable to anyone in the draft—even Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha (who had seriously diminished stuff and looked nothing like he does now, I might add).
Stroman dropped because of myths he’s about to shatter. The issue, of course, is that Lincecum already did this and we haven’t yet learned our lesson. Fortunately, lessons that go unlearned allow for market inefficiencies to be exploited by teams who are willing to see the truth.
The return of Brandon Morrow from injury, a (slight) improvement in year 2 of R.A Dickey, the consistent averageness of Mark Buehrle, and the giddy-ness that will be brought on with the emergence of Stroman have the makings of a pretty solid rotation to me. Throw in one of the available free agent pitchers that won’t cost an arm and a leg, or perhaps an internal candidate such as Kyle Drabek, and I’ll be just fine thanks.