The sample size is bigger now, but it still isn’t looking too good for the thought-to-be Toronto Blue Jays Ace Marcus Stroman. Seven starts so far this season and five charged losses to his name is hard to argue with, but everyone knows win-loss can be deceiving… so lets delve a little deeper.
What tends to tell a better story is some fancy stats like earned run average, and for Stroman it ain’t pretty. 7.71, a tough stat to explain away. Errors removed, the ERA for Stroman tells quite the tale. He cant seem to retire batters when he needs too and its coming back to hurt him. Poor pitch location and steering of his pitches is causing him to miss his spots, which hitters are punishing him for.
Two stats that reflect this, and are inflated this year contributing to his increased earned runs allowed are his home runs/9 innings, and walks/9 innings.
Both of these stat categories are higher than they have been in Stroman’s career. 1.2 HR/9 is .3 points higher than his previous season and has been an issue for the pitcher. Likewise, Stroman is walking an increased amount of batters this season, too. 4.3 walks/9 innings is completely unsustainable and is a major factor in his struggles – men on base = flirting with disaster.
Much like real estate, pitching is all location location location, and Stroman is struggling to find it. You can see in his very physical frustrations mid game the problem is mechanical, but could become mental in no time.
The silver lining for Stroman is that in his career he has never thrown as many strikeouts as he has so far this season (per nine innings). He is .1 points over his career best SO/9 which he threw in his first season as a Blue Jay starter, when batters didn’t know what to expect from him. What this means is basically when he can locate his pitches they are deadly, it is just a matter of getting his rhythm back and getting his delivery location dialed in.
What should motivate Stroman (if not his own teams success) is his online presence. No one has a bigger chip on their shoulder in the majors than this guy. It comes from a long history of being too small, and succumbing to injury. The natural hype man loves adversity and good Lord has he had his share this season, but he knows how epic the climb back to the top will be when he does it. That’s his motivation… oh and how much money he’s throwing away in the impending arbitration ahead of him after this season.
Good pitchers have bad season, it happens. What is positive is Stroman’s new mantra this season, “Never panic, just manage.” He’s still active in the dug out, still hyping up his teammates, and still showing up to game every time its his start.
So no, he isn’t a bad pitcher. He’s just pitching like one.