Marcus Stroman’s triumphant return comes at the perfect time for the Toronto Blue Jays
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Expectations for Stroman and the Jays were sky high prior to the start of the season. When we lost him to a fluke injury in the pre-season, some people were immediately calling for the end of the Jays’ season. “There’s no way their rotation can compete without Stroman in the mix,” we were told.
The critics, of course, were wrong. Toronto survived; Stroman went back to school and vowed to return early.
Fast-forward six months and Stroman’s return comes at the perfect time for the Jays. R.A. Dickey has enjoyed a great second half to the season, Marco Estrada has been an unbelievable sleeper addition to the rotation and David Price is the new jewel in general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ crown, but we’ve also seen Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison struggle at various points in the season.
Sep 12, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) delivers a pitch during the first inning of the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Things have gotten to the point where Hutchison has been demoted to the bullpen and the Jays are trying to squeeze out every possible moment of rest for Buehrle. Both pitchers helped the team earlier in the season when wins weren’t always easy to secure; now they need well-deserved breaks and the timely return of Stroman makes all of this possible.
In his first two starts of the season, Stroman has limited the opposition to four earned runs on 10 hits. His 3.00 ERA and 1.08 WHIP underscore his successful return to the lineup. In some sense, it’s like he never really missed a beat from last year’s impressive rookie run.
Moving forward, we know the Jays will be using Stroman in the rotation and Hutchison from the bullpen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team deploy Stroman on four days rest in situations where the time wants to give Buehrle an extra day of rest. Stroman looks healthy, he’s energized and eager to compete – why not tap into his youthful exuberance?
Sep 16, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher David Price (14) delivers a pitch to an Atlanta Braves batter in the third inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
If Price was the “big” pitching addition for the Jays, you can look at Stroman as another late-season boost to the rotation. The circumstances of Stroman’s return make it feel like the Jays bolstered their rotation with two important additions down the stretch. Few others teams can say the same as we head towards the post-season. This is a huge advantage for the Jays.
Manager John Gibbons – “Who should we pitch today?”
Pitching coach Pete Walker – “Well, Buehrle’s a little sore and tired. Hutchison has struggled on the road. Let’s run with Stroman again.”
Gibbons – “Hnaorngoanogro ajogjoagoangoa aoergoa b.”
It will be interesting to see who makes the Jays’ post-season rotation – my candidates right now are Price, Estrada and Dickey – but Stroman can easily insert himself into this conversation if he stays hot.
Friars on Base
We could also be seeing a glimpse of next season’s rotation – the Jays will need to re-sign Price, pick up the option on Dickey and extend Buehrle, of course – which should strike fear in the rest of the American League. Stroman will be a key piece of this bright future and his presence makes it possible for the Jays to play around with or even cut the roles of Buehrle and Hutchison.
Before we get caught up thinking about the future, however, let’s take a moment to enjoy the present ride as Stroman and the Jays drive us towards the post-season for the first time in 22 years. It’s awesome.
What are your thoughts on the importance of Stroman’s return? A big boost or too early to say? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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