Archive for the ‘Marcus Stroman’ Category


In this guest post from Kyle Matte, he looks at the stellar rookie season being put together by Marcus Stroman, and the potential for it to become an historic one (in Blue Jays terms, at least) if he’s able to keep up his current pace. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

Way back in February, I wrote an article for Drunk Jays Fans in which I looked at all of the Blue Jays number one prospects (according to Baseball America) dating back to 1983. Despite suggestions to the contrary in the comments section, it was not an attempt to predict the specific future of Aaron Sanchez, but instead to share as much information as possible from the historical record of this organization’s number one prospects that shows the steep learning curve at baseball’s highest level. The average number one prospect progressed on a slow, linear scale (roughly 1 WAR in year one, 2 WAR in year two, 3 WAR in year three), and given the lack of success developing top prospect pitchers, I wanted to stress patience with Aaron Sanchez, as it would be unfair to expect him to light the world ablaze immediately upon reaching Toronto.

Then Marcus Stroman happened. While not necessarily the Blue Jays unanimous number one prospect (many evaluators and prospectors were split between he and Sanchez), the pair was 1A and 1B in some regard. Everyone knows Stroman is having an excellent rookie season. What many don’t realize is the potentially historic nature of his inaugural year.

Marcus Stroman has made five relief appearances and thirteen starts, earning -0.1 WAR in the former and +2.2 WAR in the latter for a total of +2.1 WAR this season. He’s done this in just 86-and-a-third innings, no less. That production ranks second amongst Blue Jays pitchers behind only Mark Buehrle, who has earned 0.2 more WAR in his 63 additional innings.

As previously mentioned, when inspecting Stroman specifically as a starter, he has produced 2.2 wins in 13 starts – or roughly 0.17 WAR per start. After Wednesday’s game, the Blue Jays will have 40 remaining on their schedule, with Stroman tentatively scheduled to pitch eight of them. The club continues to give no indication that they intend to limit or shut down the right hander over the season’s final months, and should they remain in the thick of the playoff race, I suspect they’ll remain true to their word (or lack thereof). If Stroman continues to produce at a pace of 0.17 WAR per start, he’ll earn another 1.4 wins over the remainder of the season. Those 1.4 wins would raise his season total to 3.5 WAR, and place him in elite company amongst Blue Jays rookies.

Currently, the two best rookie seasons by pitchers belong to Mark Eichhorn and Gustavo Chacin, who produced 5.1 WAR (157 IP) and 3.3 WAR (203 IP) in 1986 and 2005 respectively. Should Stroman continue to play the way he has, he should surpass Chacin despite making significantly fewer starts and having far fewer innings in which to accumulate value. When expanding the criteria to include position players, Eric Hinske slides into the picture thanks to his excellent 4.6 WAR season in 2002. Really consider this for a moment: in the 38 years of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, Marcus Stroman is on pace to have the third best rookie season ever.

As a reminder, to attain this level of value, Stroman will need to continue pitching like one of the better pitchers in baseball while avoiding the dreaded shut down. Stroman has averaged 6.15 innings per start, and should he maintain that rate over his final eight starts, he’d finish the year with 135.2 innings in Toronto and 35.2 innings in Buffalo. That 171.1 inning total would be a significant increase upon his 2013 workload of 123.1 innings [plus however much he worked while suspended for 50 games -- AS], and one that may be too great for the organization to risk. Still, given all we know about Stroman’s ability and attitude, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Would it be enough to win the American League Rookie of the Year? In a word, no. Major League Baseball considers both Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu to be “rookies” despite starring in the Japanese and Cuban professional leagues respectively for years, and the two are/were having exceptional seasons. Tanaka was in the early running for the Cy Young award before succumbing to an elbow injury, while Abreu has produced 4.0 WAR, leads the world in home runs with 31, and likely finds himself in the MVP discussion (or in the discussion for second place behind Mike Trout and his playoff-bound Angels, at least).

That meaningless award should be of no consequence to Blue Jays fans, however. After years of having our dreams fall by the wayside, it appears as though the club has finally developed the home-grown star we’ve always coveted from afar, and have lacked since Roy Halladay. And, most important of all, he’s all ours until through least 2020.

As noted in the comments of the post below, this fancy little Vine clip — via @DanToman — is even better than the curveball GIF I used.

Safe to say Eric Hosmer was impressed.


Interesting tweet here from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:

To hand-hold you through that, Stroman was scheduled to start tonight for Buffalo. Now, unless there’s an error on the card in question, he’s been scratched. For what possible reason, we do not yet know.

We know the one that we don’t want to hear, but according to a follow-up tweet from Harrington, we can breath easy:

That something could be a trade, technically. There could be an issue with one of the Jays’ current crop of starters, possibly. But it seems pretty reasonable to figure what’s most likely up. Liam Hendriks needed every inch of the Rogers Centre and every ounce of defensive prowess from the guys behind him to skate through his start on Wednesday against Tampa, and though the results have been there for him, the performance and the peripherals certainly have not been.

Hendriks’ next turn in the rotation is currently slated for Tuesday, but his day actually falls on Monday’s off-day. This means that the club could skip him, pitch their starters on regular rest through next week, and then not need a fifth starter again until next Saturday, at home against St. Louis. And the Bisons just so happen to have a game on Monday, which I’d expect Stroman to end up starting.

Stroman hasn’t seen great results since his return to Buffalo — and, of course, struggled a bit during his brief time in the majors — but continued to get himself stretched back out, throwing 83 pitches in a four-plus-inning start back on Sunday. He gave up four earned runs during the outing, but struck out four, only walked one (and hit a man), and had two of those earned runs hung on him by reliever John Stilson, who took over after Stroman failed to record an out in the fifth (and hit his pitch limit), having given up two singles, then the hit batter. Not exactly as awful as the 9.00 ERA makes it look.

More importantly: it’s time. Or, at least, it looks like it’s time for Stroman, not to mention time to get out from under the Liam Hendriks experiment before the results go as sideways as you’d expect. At least, that’s what I figure. Could be way off.

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From the fast Twitter fingers of Barry Davis of the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet, here’s a nifty bit of news from the Rogers-owned Toronto Blue Jays:

Let’s start here: In the overall, long-term, Stroman starting is better than Stroman relieving.

I think it would be easy to oversimplify things here. No, he didn’t have great results in the 6.1 innings he pitched while here, but I don’t think at all this is as simple as him having pitched his way out of the job.

For whatever it’s worth, some of his peripherals have been fairly good. He minimized walks, generated ground balls, and got some swing and miss. The strikeout rate certainly wasn’t where you’d want it to be, though, and while his .444 BABIP suggests there is certainly an element of bad luck that may have coloured the sample we saw, most times it didn’t exactly feel like balls were necessarily just not finding their way into gloves.

In other words, it’s hard to properly assess what this cameo means, which is exactly what you’d expect from a sample so small. And, if you’ll permit me to spitball here a little bit, I don’t think that’s what the Jays have attempted to do. In fact, I think it’s almost simple what’s going on here.

The results, I suspect, have made the manager understandably a little reluctant to go to Stroman. That being the case, instead of being the bullpen weapon he was ostensibly brought here to be, Stroman has become the fourth right-handed reliever on the bullpen depth chart, behind Janssen, Delabar, and McGowan, and is less likely to get called on than Cecil and Loup, as well. He is both accruing service time and failing to get innings.

I don’t think the demotion is an indictment of how he’s performed, I think it’s an acknowledgement of where he stands in the pecking order, and the understanding that it’s far more valuable to the club both to prevent him from accumulating service time (and potentially getting hitting arbitration a year early as a Super Two) and to get him stretched out again and ready for his ideal role, in the starting rotation.

They could have simply thrust him into that role anyway, but I can understand there being a political element here, and even some element of trepidation regarding that tiny sample. Maybe the political stuff is too convenient of an excuse — and surely it wouldn’t matter much anyway — but Todd Redmond has pitched reasonably well this year, today not withstanding, and did a very nice job as a fill-in last year. He and a faction of the room might be understandably irked if he were passed over for the opportunity by a struggling rookie. Or if that’s nonsense — and hopefully it is — the club could simply want to take a good look at what they’ve got in the hot triple-A hand of Liam Hendriks, and be understandably thinking that this is the best opportunity they’ll get to see what he can do at the next level.

Not exactly inspiring stuff, but we do know they’re at least looking at Henriks. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News spoke to Alex Anthopoulos yesterday, as the GM visited the Queen City specifically to see the 25-year-old former Twin — and, perhaps, to avoid a repeat of last season’s dunderheaded Jim-Negrych-deserved-a-chance screed from a certain Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.

“He’s why I came,” Anthopoulos said. “You want to see the 1.50 ERA for yourself. He was good. Throws strikes, changes speeds and I think people tend to forget he’s still young.”

Added Buffalo manager and OG Gary Allenson, “He’s money. … He deserves a look.”

Stroman won’t be eligible to be recalled in time for the next time the fifth starter’s spot comes up, Saturday afternoon against Oakland at Rogers Centre, so it will likely be Hendriks — and if not, Redmond — who gets the call. And with Stroman back to taking turns in the Buffalo rotation, waiting for either of those two or J.A. Happ to inevitably fail, he’s actually exactly where he should be.


Yikes. This evening, after yet another fucking dispiriting bullpen blowup leading to a loss in Pittsburgh, the Jays announced — according to the busy Twitter fingers of several reporters, including Gregor Chisholm, whose tweet shows up first in my feed —  that Brandon Morrow’s examination has revealed a torn tendon sheath in his right hand, and that he has immediately been transferred to the 60-day DL. Chisholm adds that the Jays will wait to see how the injury heals to decide their next course of action, meaning that if he doesn’t need surgery he could be back in July. But if he does, he’s done for the year.


But there’s a small silver lining to this cloud: soon afterwards Barry Davis of the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet tweeted that the Rogers-owned Blue Jays will be calling up Marcus Stroman, and that, at least for the time being — and for fuck sakes, it will be a short one, so simmer down about it — he’ll be pitching out of the bullpen.

The Blue Jays, Barry Davis tweets, will announce the corresponding move tomorrow.

Fans have understandably been extremely frustrated with Brandon Morrow over the past couple of season. He’s generally pitched well when healthy, despite never living up to the expectations that come with having the kind of arm that he does, but those “when healthy” stretches have increasingly become fewer and farther between.

Thing is, despite nagging issues throughout even his healthiest of seasons, Morrow did make 77 starts over three seasons from 2010 to 2012. But the last three seasons have been a struggle when it comes to health, with a long layoff for an oblique injury (and some truly excellent pitching on either side of it) in 2012, last year’s nerve impingement, and now this. I’ll always be hesitant when it comes to calling someone injury prone, but also it’s not like all of our bodies react the exact same way to the stresses and strains of the extreme forces ballplayers generate. It’s certainly no longer unfair to wonder if there really is something about him, physically, that makes him susceptible to these issues — many will point to the fact that he has diabetes, though I personally don’t know nearly enough about it to suggest that there’s a direct link, nor do I suspect most who like to pontificate about such things do — but I still don’t think any of us armchair doctors can genuinely say that there has to be, and the fact of the matter, he’s now spent so much time not being quite right that figuring all of this out is about to be somebody else’s problem anyway.

In fact, if his attempt at rehab for the torn tendon sheath doesn’t solve the issue, and he needs to have season-ending surgery, it’s not inconceivable that Morrow has thrown his last pitch for the Blue Jays.

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The case of J.A. Happ and his tenure with the Blue Jays certainly is a curious one.

He was acquired in a maligned trade for what is still deemed too many “prospects” in some corners, even as the players the Astros received continue to prove the Jays right in their evaluation.

He then was the saviour that all Jays fans were pining for this time a year ago, as he put in a great Spring Training while seemingly being destined for Buffalo, as Ricky Romero — the incumbent, the club insisted, until the bitter end — imploded.

Now he’s the man everybody wants out. Alex Anthopoulos has talked up the organization’s youngsters, partly out of self-preservation after doing fuck all to improve the rotation in the off-season, and that’s who fans want to see. Not J.A. Happ and his too many pitches, too few strikeouts, and supposed general mediocrity, especially now that he has begun this spring with two miserable outings (hurt though he may have been).

Even the team itself is wavering. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet notes a tone change from Alex Anthopoulos, who now says two rotation spots may be up for grabs, admitting Happ’s early performance and sore back have caused concerns. Happ’s next start has been pushed back, according to a tweet from Mike Wilner, and the Jays aren’t saying when he’ll be on the mound next– perhaps he’s this year’s Brett Cecil or Ricky Romero, whisked away from prying eyes and getting his work in at unannounced times to keep the media from making his possible failure to make the team a bigger story than they want it to be (as if that ever works).

I don’t know, though. If he ends up returning to health and to the rotation competition in short order, frankly, I’m not sure the kids are necessarily as much better than a lot of fans think they’re going to be. But the bigger question is: better than what? Just who is J.A. Happ, and how do we get a handle on what we think he might bring to the Jays, given the ebbs and flows of his career since he was brought here in the most boring ten-player deal in history?

It’s an interesting question…

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In a new piece at (Insider only), Jim Bowden posits some trade scenarios that might land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, and surely thanks to all the rumours surrounding the Jays’ potential interest, he’s been certain to dream one up for us. He also concedes that “the Cubs won’t get top pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman in a Samardzija deal,” and yet still makes it almost seem unpalatable by the prospects that he does suggest the Jays could give up: Sean Nolin, Dan Norris, and Alberto Tirado.

Note: I said almost.

Of course, maybe that’s only seeming unpalatable in the wake of the Doug Fister trade– though it appears as though the world has come around, at least a little bit, on the notion that the Tigers must have really liked something about Robbie Ray (who Jason Parks– more on him later– says would rank as his number two prospect for Detroit), or… something.

Hey, but at least we can take a bit of consolation that the Jays maybe had a little coup themselves in the acquisition of Dioner Navarro, who looks maybe more today like a bargain than he did yesterday, now that word has broken of A.J. Pierzynski somehow making the Red Sox more hatable by signing there for just one year at the same $8-million price tag as we got Navarro for two, right?

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