Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
Marcus Stroman was the strongest member of the Blue Jays’ rotation in 2017. Stroman aimed for endurance this season, and he achieved it. He tied Marco Estrada for the most starts with 33, and led the team with 201 innings pitched this year, three off from his career high established in 2016.
Stroman pitched the Blue Jays’ first win of the year, and went 6 1/3 innings with one run allowed on six hits and two walks in Tampa Bay. He then pitched a complete game against Milwaukee, and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, but took the loss. After getting lit up for six runs on eleven hits in 4 2/3 innings against Boston, Stroman rebounded and pitched another two-run complete game (only one run was earned). With one additional start in the month, in which he struck out ten, he had a 2.97 ERA in 36 1/3 innings in April.
The first start of May was among Stroman’s worst of the year. He was lifted after three innings, after allowing five runs, including two homers. Two of his starts in May were shutouts, one lasting 6 innings and the other lasting 5 2/3. He pitched 32 1/3 innings in six May starts, earning an ERA of 3.62. Stroman also had exactly 28 strikeouts in each of the first three months of the season.
June was his worst month by ERA, with a mark of 3.69. Although he lasted seven or more innings in three of his five starts, he also had a four-inning outing where he allowed seven runs. That was the second consecutive start in which he allowed three homers. His final June start was a 7 2/3-inning shutout of the Orioles, with five hits allowed and only one walk.
Stroman didn’t allow a home run for the month of July. In five starts, he pitched 31 innings, and allowed ten runs (seven earned) for an ERA of 2.03. Conversely, his walks spiked – after allowing 24 base-on-balls through the first three months of the year, he gave up 19 in July alone. On August 6th in Houston, Stroman allowed a season-high 11 hits for the second time. They only led to two earned runs. In his next start, Stroman lasted 8 innings but had four runs – all unearned – score on four hits, after a hit batter and a series of errors. Stroman tallied a 3.20 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in August, despite a season-high 43 hits.
His September numbers were a good representation of his season overall. Aside from a Baltimore start cut short by a 2nd-inning line drive off his elbow, Stroman went into the 6th inning in four of his five other games. He allowed a total of ten earned runs (plus two unearned) in 30 1/3 innings on 29 hits, 11 walks and 25 strikeouts. His ERA for the month came in just below his season mark, at 2.97.
Stroman finished the season with a 13-9 record and a 3.09 ERA, best among Blue Jays starters. He struck out 164 batters for a 19.7% K-rate, and walked 62, a rate of 7.4%. His K/BB ratio was 2.65, and his ground ball rate remained high – he averaged 2.55 ground outs for each one in the air.
Stroman also had a few offensive highlights this season – called upon to pinch-hit in the 11th inning of a game in St. Louis on April 25th, he lined a double into left field for his first career hit. He then ran home on an error, scoring the go-ahead and winning run for the Blue Jays. His double was the first pinch-hit by a pitcher in team history, and the first pinch-hit for extra bases by an American League pitcher since 1971 (before the introduction of the DH).
Then on May 18th – a game in which he kept the Atlanta offense scoreless on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings – Stroman came up to bat in the 4th inning and hit his first career home run. He was the second Blue Jays pitcher to do so (as well as the youngest, and the first right-hander). He also became the first Blue Jays pitcher to have two extra-base hits – and because Luke Maile had homered just before him, they were the first AL pitcher-catcher duo to hit back-to-back home runs in the designated hitter era.
Stroman found himself on many American League leaderboards this year – he was 3rd in games started, 4th in ERA, and 6th in innings pitched. His two complete games also put him 3rd on that list. He even received some Cy Young votes, coming in 8th for the award, which would eventually go to Cleveland ace Corey Kluber. He also took home the Gold Glove award for the best defensive pitcher in the American League.
Stroman went to arbitration with the Blue Jays this year, and lost. He had asked for $400,000 more than the Blue Jays’ offer of $6.5 million. He remains under team control until 2021, and is still one of the biggest parts of their rotation.
Regular Season Grades:
Jay Blue: A(+)
Wesley James: A
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