We can talk about his stats and how he’s been arguably the Toronto Blue Jays’ best pitcher since joining the rotation at the end of May. That’s the easy stuff to discuss.
What’s more impressive about Marcus Stroman is his incredible calm and confidence in an otherwise bizarre baseball world.
Think about it: the 23-year-old right-hander began the season with the Buffalo Bisons. There was talk of him joining the big club at the start of the season, but this was based mainly on his potential as a top prospect. I doubt many people actually expected him to crack the opening day roster.
Fast-forward to the start of May: Stroman makes his MLB debut as a relief pitcher at new Yankee Stadium – the cathedral of all baseball, the cathedral of his hometown team. That’s quite the experience, no? Now try getting shelled in what you described in advance as a “dream” experience for yourself. The experience didn’t stop him, however – it pushed him to get better.
I can only imagine what he felt taking the mound against the Yankees in the Bronx.
Fast-forward to the end of July: Stroman has now beaten one of the biggest teams in baseball on the road. He absolutely dominated the Boston Red Sox last night at Fenway Park, limiting them to six hits and one run (earned) over seven innings of solid work.
If you look between his first appearance at the big league level in May and last night’s stellar performance, the tale of an amazing baseball journey begins to emerge. Over the course of three short months, Stroman has matured as both a player and an individual. Whether he’s sitting in the dugout or out there on the mound, Stroman’s got tremendous poise for who someone who’s literally still learning the secrets of the game.
He looks around him to see a Cy Young winner in R.A. Dickey, an established veteran in Mark Buehrle, a former home run king and current all-star in Jose Bautista and a slew of other big name players: it must be a truly exceptional, indescribable experience.
At some point, I’d like to think we’ll see the kid in Stroman finally reveal himself and stumble over the weight of such an amazing experience. Fortunately, that’s not how he approaches the game and that’s why kids already look up to him.