Blue Jays: The Good and the Bad of Marcus Stroman Starting

Jul 20, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

John Gibbons  announced on Monday that Marcus Stroman will take the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays in their do-or-die wildcard playoff game — was it the right choice? Here’s the good and the bad.

There was a lot of hype around Marcus Stroman leading up to opening day back in April. The 25-year-old (then 24) was thought to lead the Toronto Blue Jays‘ rotation as their ace.

Under those expectations, Stroman has had a disappointing season.

Realistically, however, for a young player in his first, full, injury-free season, his numbers have not been all that bad.

In 32 games this year, Stroman has a 9-10 record and is sporting a sub five ERA at 4.37. He pitched in 204 innings and struck out 166 while only walking 54. Those aren’t bad numbers, they just aren’t the ace numbers that people were expecting this year.

Whether you agree or disagree, there is one thing for certain. Stroman is starting on Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles. So, let’s look at the good — and the bad.

The Good

Stroman has been here before:

It was just under one year ago when Stroman took the mound for the Jays in their first playoff berth since 1993.

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In three playoff games last year, he went 1-0 with a 4.19 ERA. However, he pitched much better in the two games against the Texas Rangers (3.46 ERA) than he did in the one game against the Kansas City Royals (four runs over 6.1 innings).

The Jays went on to win two of the games that Stroman started in, and in the only game that they didn’t pick up the W, he left the game after seven innings with the lead, 4-2.

At the end of the day, Stroman has experience pitching in the Rogers Centre, in a playoff atmosphere, and pitched well enough to give the Jays a chance to win each night.

Stroman is hot right now:

Let’s forget about the first three months of the season right now, because, well, they were pretty forgettable.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jul 6, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) reacts to striking out Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield (15) to end the sixth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /

Since then, Stroman has been on fire. In July, his ERA was 3.71 and in August it was 3.13.

It may not seem like because of the five losses he has picked up in September, but his ERA this last month has still been an impressive 3.41.

He has only allowed more than three runs once this month, and the main reason for an 0-5 September is the offense.

In his six September games, Toronto bats have accounted for eight total runs — barely more than one run per game. Most surprisingly, the Jays were shut out in three of those six games.

Only two teams in all of baseball have had less hits than the Jays in September.

If you’re worried about Stroman on Tuesday, you probably shouldn’t be. It’s the offense you need to be concerned about.

The Bad

Toronto has a better option:

Even though Stroman has been hot this month, so has the entire Toronto pitching staff. His ERA of 3.41 is only third best among starters.

J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez are out of commission after pitching the Jays into the playoffs over the weekend, but Francisco Liriano, a lefty, is rested and ready to go.

Toronto Blue Jays
Sep 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (45) delivers a pitch against Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Liriano has been lights out this September. In six games he has only allowed six runs en route to an outstanding ERA of 2.03.

As for the Orioles, they have struggled tremendously against left-handed pitching.

Over the course of the season, they had the second worst batting average against left handers at .234. In comparison, against right-handers they have been hitting .263 — or fifth best in all of baseball.

If that’s not enough, in his only start against Baltimore this season (Sept. 28), Liriano pitched 6.1 innings allowing no runs on six hits and 10 strikeouts.

Although, there is one positive to Liriano starting from the bench. Brett Cecil has been struggling recently (and most of the season), and the Jays desperately need some left-handed relief out of the bullpen. In a win or go home game, Gibbons will be sure to turn to Liriano mid-game if need be.

Stroman has been pumped by the Orioles this season:

In four games against Baltimore this season, Stroman has allowed 18 earned runs. That’s an ugly 4.5 runs per game.

With Toronto’s offence in the slump that it is currently in, allowing more than four runs to score in the Wildcard Game is going to be extremely hard to overcome. Especially with the bullpen the Orioles feature, headlined by Cy Young candidate Zach Britton.

Out of the four games, two of them were played in Rogers Centre. In both of those games, Stroman allowed four earned runs in each.

The most recent was just last week on September 29. In seven innings of work, Stroman picked up the loss while walking two and only striking out three.

Next: Breaking Down Wild Card Game Starters

If the Jays want a chance to make it to the ALDS, then Stroman is going to need to have his best game of the season against the Orioles, and Toronto’s offence is going to need to wake up from its deep slumber.