Blue Jays fans have been looking forward to the emergence of Marcus Stroman as the Jays’ staff ace for 2016 ever since the curtain fell on the club’s wildly successful 2015 season. The Stroman story so far this spring has been that he has given fans what they missed last year when he was out for most of the season because of a knee injury.
Today, Stroman went out and put on a pitching clinic, adding 4 2/3 innings to his spring workload (more than anticipated), allowing just three hits, no walks, no runs and striking out four. Stroman went 55 pitches, getting six ground outs and two fly outs. He lowered his spring ERA to 2.79 and, in 9 2/3 innings, has given up seven hits without walking anyone.
If this is what we’re going to expect from Stroman, I think all of us will be very happy.
In other news, the Blue Jays continued to add to their pitching depth by signing veteran left-hander Randy Choate to a minor league deal that will also give him an invitation to big league training camp.
With Aaron Loup sidelined by a forearm strain, there’s an opening on the major league squad for a second lefty (after Brett Cecil) that could be filled by Pat Venditte.
Choate, 40, brings a veteran presence to the club with 15 seasons in the major leagues with Arizona, the Yankees, Tampa Bay, Miami, the Dodgers and, for the past three seasons, the Cardinals. Choate has been used mostly as a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY), throwing only 98 2/3 innings in the past three years. He was excellent in his first year in St. Louis in 2013, with a 2.29 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP while lefties just hit .176 off of him.
Last year, Choate was still effective, despite a much higher ERA. He had solid peripherals along the lines of his career averages including a 61.7% ground ball rate but lefties hit .265 off of him.
Still, Choate could offer a veteran in the mold of LaTroy Hawkins and Darren Oliver to stabilize the pitching staff if need be. He also brings playoff experience (although he wasn’t all that great in his last chance in the postseason with the Cardinals. Minor league deals offer no risk to the big league club and therefore any players they bring in to camp have a chance to contribute to the big league team.
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The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is coming this spring! Stay tuned for more information coming!
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