After a rough first full season at the major league level, Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman has his injuries behind him and a bright future ahead.
The Toronto Blue Jays boasted one of the top rotations in baseball just a season ago, topping the American League in ERA, opponent’s batting average and innings pitched. Heading into the year, many expected promising star Marcus Stroman to be at the forefront of that success.
Instead, Stroman struggled in his first full campaign. He finished the season with a career-high 204 innings, but posted just a 4.37 ERA to go along with 166 strikeouts. While manager John Gibbons continued to show confidence in him throughout the year — Stroman did get the start in the AL Wild Card Game — his lack of production left much to be desired.
A former first-round pick, Stroman has always had a pretty high ceiling. He accrued a 2.39 ERA as well as a blistering 12.5 K/9 in his final season at Duke before being drafted in 2012, and made his major league debut only two years later.
Stroman reported to Spring Training ahead of the 2015 season expecting to compete for Opening Day starter, but tore his ACL on March 10 during a fielding practice. With typical rehab around six months, most expected him to be out for the season.
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Midway through the season, the Blue Jays emerged as playoff contenders despite Stroman’s absence. As he progressed more and more from the injury, a return in time for the postseason became a possibility. Stroman ended up making four starts down the stretch and three in the playoffs before Toronto was knocked out by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
After the season ended, Stroman picked back up where he left off in his rehab. He wasn’t able to translate his success last season, but expects to be back on track with a full winter of offseason preparation without any injury concerns now behind him.
“Mechanically I got a little out of whack at some point and I just simplified everything on my own,” Stroman told CBC Sports. “That’s something I’m going to do this year, kind of in my delivery and my motion, but I feel great.”
Stroman has yet to produce the numbers that earned him that first-round selection, but the book is far from written. He’s far from worrying about contract years and free agency and already has two years’ worth of postseason experience under his belt. The Blue Jays figure to be right in the thick of things in the AL East and Stroman is a big reason why.
The right-hander still boasts a six-pitch repertoire that features an elite slider and sinker that’s nearly automatic at producing groundballs. As he embarks on his age-26 season, the best is yet to come from Marcus Stroman. It’s only a matter of time before he reaches his potential.