When the term “ace” is used in baseball, it is really reserved for a select few. Guys like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Chris Sale are perfect examples of this. There are many guys who are very good number one starters that don’t quite have ace status, and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman fits that description.
Marcus Stroman Has The Potential To Be An Ace
There will be many throughout the baseball community that won’t buy the hype around Stroman. It’s tough to understand why.
Stroman is listed at 5’8″. He is one of six pitchers in the 21st century to be listed under 5’10” and start a major league game. That is really the only downside to him, his size. But as his twitter campaign reads: “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart”, he doesn’t let that affect his play on the field.
In his rookie season in 2014, Stroman finished 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA, and 111 strikeouts in 130.2 innings pitched. He even earned his first career save in the process. Things were looking bright for the young righty until Spring Training the following season.
He ended up tearing the ACL in his left knee and was ruled out for the year. Stroman wanted nothing more than to play that season and he wasn’t going to let the ACL tear hinder that.
September 12th rolled around and Stroman got to start against the New York Yankees only seven months after being told he wasn’t going to pitch again that season. He finished out the year 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA over a small 27 inning sample size. He pitched two games in the ALDS against the Texas Rangers in a series the Blue Jays would eventually lose.
Last season, Stroman was handed the ball on Opening Day and took it all the way into the ninth, helping Toronto get the win, and get season off to an incredible start. He went 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in a career high 204 innings pitched. This was enough to be given trust to pitch in the AL Wild Card game in which the Blue Jays won.
He was supposed to start game four of the ALDS rematch against the Rangers but Toronto swept them. Stroman got a bit roughed up in his only ALCS start and didn’t get to pitch again in that series.
He only continued his dominance into the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. In his three starts, he posted a 2.35 ERA. He was given the chance to beat Puerto Rico in the championship game and he ran with it. He held them hitless for the first six innings and was named the MVP of the entire tournament after the 8-0 rout.
What Impact Does This All Have?
The 25 year old Stroman has a career stat line that reads as follows: 56 starts, 24-16, 3.91 ERA, 361.2 IP, and a 1.222 WHIP.
Those are very close to ace type numbers. He isn’t quite there yet.
As an AL pitcher, a 3.91 career ERA is very solid due to the inflated ERA’s with the designated hitter. His career WAR is 4.9.
Stroman is a dynamic pitcher who isn’t going to blow a fastball by the hitter but it’s the bite that fools them. He is very good when he is ahead in the count and his repertoire of pitches keeps hitters guessing constantly.
Stroman is a guy who will always be overlooked. His height doesn’t help in that regard, either. He is an underrated player on a team that is very good. Stroman will follow Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to begin the season for Toronto and it’s quite possible that he would pitch in a do or die game based upon his performance in the Wild Card game last season and his WBC experience this season.
Look for Marcus Stroman’s name to become more synonymous with some of the game’s best pitchers this season and well beyond.