2016 Blue Jays Season Review: Marcus Stroman

By: Jay Blue and @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays From Away

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.

Having a healthy Marcus Stroman in the Blue Jays rotation for a full season was seen as the one thing that would make up for the loss of David Price heading into 2017. Stroman missed most of 2016 after his catastrophic knee injury but came back strong in September and the playoffs.

After an eventful season full of ups and downs (injuring his knee, graduating from Duke, pitching in the playoffs), Stroman and fans were looking for a breakout year for the 25-year-old righty for whom his 5-foot-8 height doesn’t measure his heart.

Stroman was in fine form in the spring posting a 1.98 ERA and stellar 0.73 WHIP in spring training, striking out 12 without walking anyone. Out of the gate, Stroman had strong peripheral stats in April but was looking to get more ground balls and pitched to contact, striking out only 19 in 35 innings while posting a 4.37 ERA.

Stroman posted similar numbers in May, a 4.54 ERA but struck out 32 in 39 2/3 innings with 11 walks but gave up 46 hits and three more home runs (after three in April). June was a struggle as Stroman allowed six runs (with five walks) in his first outing and seven runs (without any walks) in his fourth outing of the month, giving up four home runs overall and compiling a 7.76 ERA.

In July, Stroman began to turn things around with a 6 2/3-inning outing against Cleveland in which he held them to one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He got hit hard by Oakland just after the All-Star break (July 15) but that seven-run (six-earned, with three home runs against) outing was sandwiched in between two eight-inning starts in which he earned wins and gave up a total of three runs with 12 strikeouts over 16 innings.

Stroman opened August with a 13-strikeout performance against the Houston Astros and had outings of eight and nine strikeouts later in the month, posting a 3.13 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. Down the stretch, Stroman was solid and consistent, giving up four earned runs or fewer in every game in September and throwing at least six innings. The highight of September for Stroman was a seven-inning, one-hit, three walk outing against the New York Yankees on September 24.

Stroman set a career high with 204 innings with a 4.37 ERA but his FIP (3.71) and xFIP (3.41) both indicate that Stroman was a little unlucky, particularly with 16.5% of fly balls going for home runs (the league average is around 10.0%). Stroman limited walks well (6.3% walk rate) while improving his strikeout rate over his limited action last year (to 19.4% from 17.5%) and Stroman was worth 3.6 Wins Above Replacement (according to Fangraphs, but just 1.4 WAR by Baseball Reference’s formula).

Stroman made started the Wild Card game against Baltimore and one start against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Stroman gave up two runs in six innings, picking up a win against the Orioles and taking a loss and giving up four runs (on two home runs) against the Indians.

Contract Status

Stroman is eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2017 as a “Super Two” candidate (2.148 years of major league service time). MLB Trade Rumors estimates that he’ll get $3.5 million.

Emily Says

The Blue Jays’ 2016 Opening Day starter, Marcus Stroman, threw a team-leading 204 innings, good for seventh-most in the AL. In his first start, he allowed three earned runs on six hits over eight innings, with one walk allowed. In five starts in April, he pitched to three wins, a 1.03 WHIP and an ERA of 4.37 – only once going less than six innings.

In his first May start, on his 25th birthday, Stroman reached a new career high in strikeouts, whiffing nine batters over eight innings while he allowed just one run, a solo home run, and three hits against the Rays. His first loss was recorded on the 17th, when those same Rays beat him up for seven runs in 5.2 innings.

He had a 4.54 ERA in the month, a WHIP of 1.44 and allowed 22 runs (20 earned) in six starts. There was only one start in April-May when he walked three batters, all the others had two or fewer walks.

Stroman had a dicey June, pitching to a 1-3 monthly record, a 1.91 WHIP and a 7.76 ERA. In one outing he allowed six runs, in another seven (in just 3.2 innings). He began walking more batters – eleven in 26.2 innings, compared to eleven in 39.2 innings the month before. He would then bounce back in July, with a 3.71 ERA in 34 innings over five games. He only walked four over the month, no more than one per game.

On July 6th he allowed two runs on 3 hits in eight innings, holding the Royals hitless through the first five innings. On the 20th, he again went eight innings, allowing eight hits but just one run and no walks. He was credited with the win in both games.

In August he made five starts, earning a 3.13 ERA in five starts, and reached a new career high in strikeouts on the first of the month – 13 over 7 innings. In 31.2 innings he walked just five, and in two of his starts he allowed just one run. Stroman finished the year with a fairly strong September – he had a 3.41 ERA, but took the loss five times due to poor run support (in two of those outings, he allowed just two runs).

He pitched a seven-inning, one-hit shutout against the Yankees on the 24th, but took a no-decision. His walk rate increased in the last month of the year, with 14 total over 37 innings, compared to 26 strikeouts.

For the season, Stroman had an ERA of 4.37, a 9-10 record in 32 starts, and a WHIP of 1.29. His opponent’s batting average was a career high .264. He allowed 21 home runs – his HR/9 IP ratio of 0.927 was 4th best in the AL. The 209 hits he allowed were by far the most by any pitcher on the team, and he allowed the most earned runs as well, with 99 (5th-most in the American League).

However, Stroman walked the fewest batters of any qualified starter on the Blue Jays, with 54 BBs allowed (six fewer than second-place J.A. Happ), and struck out the most – 166, one ahead of Marco Estrada. His K/BB ratio of 3.07 was, as a result, also the highest on the team. He induced 22 double-play balls, more than any of his teammates, and had the biggest ratio by far of groundouts to air outs with 2.40.

Stroman was chosen to start the must-win Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles on October 4th. He allowed two runs, both coming on a Mark Trumbo home run. He lasted six innings, allowed four hits, no walks, and struck out six. In his other postseason outing, ALCS Game 3, he allowed four earned runs in 5.1 innings on three hits (including two home runs), three walks and had five strikeouts.

His postseason ERA was 4.76, his WHIP was 0.88 and his opponent’s average was .171.

Regular Season Grades

Jay: B
Emily: B+

Postseason Grades

Jay: C
Emily: B-