Toronto Blue Jays: Postseason Fate Hinges on Marcus Stroman

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays will look to orchestrate a series comeback when they hand the ball to Marcus Stroman tonight in Game 3 of the ALCS.

After dropping the first two games of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians, the Toronto Blue Jays enter Monday night’s game having dug themselves into a hole in which only three teams have ever climbed out of.

Of the 27 teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in previous league championship series, 24 of them made it to the World Series. While the odds certainly aren’t in Toronto’s favor, they’re not quite insurmountable, either, which Blue Jays fans can attest to. The team in 1985 took a commanding 2-0 series lead on the Kansas City Royals, only to have the Royals claw back to win the series in seven games.

Marcus Stroman will look to get his club on the right side of history this time around when he toes the rubber in a pivotal Game 3 tonight. Stroman started in this same scenario last year when the Blue Jays headed back home facing a 2-0 deficit against the Royals in the ALCS. The right-hander picked up the victory after going six and a third innings while allowing only three runs.

Stroman’s tendency to feed off the intensity of the postseason as well the crowd at the Rogers Centre gives Blue Jays manager John Gibbons confidence that the 25-year-old will get the job done:

"“He thrives on those kinds of things,” Gibbons said of Stroman. “He’s the perfect guy for a game like this because he always steps up, so hopefully, he can do it again.”"

His last start was nearly two weeks ago in the wild-card game against the Baltimore Orioles, as he tossed six innings of two-run baseball. Stroman, who was lined up to pitch Game 4 of the ALDS before the Blue Jays ultimately swept the series, has not fared well on extra rest this season.

Stroman had a 4.66 ERA in 12 starts on five days’ rest and a 5.11 ERA in six starts on six or more days’ rest, compared to a 3.81 ERA in 14 starts on regular four-day rest. It will be interesting to see if the 12-day layoff has any effect on his command in the early going.

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Stroman does, however, match up well against the Indians, as he held their lineup to just two runs over 14 innings in two starts this season. He’ll need to replicate that success in order to prevent his team from falling behind 3-0, a situation in which only one team in MLB history has ever come back from.