(Stephen Brashear/Associated Press)
Baseball is back!
The Blue Jays enter the 2016 season with high expectations and a level of excitement that has not been seen since the mid-nineties. This team is primed for a big season and anything less than a return to playoff action will be seen as a bust.
The inaugural player profile article for the 2016 season will be of none other than the man on the mound this afternoon, Marcus Stroman. He has the ‘stuff’ and is now this team’s ace going forward. He is ready to be ‘the guy’ and has a level of confidence and swagger that should have batters fearful.
Toronto had aspirations of him being a key member of their rotation early in his career. He was drafted 22nd overall in 2012 out of Duke University. What few may know is that he was originally drafted 532nd in 2009 by Washington, but elected to attend college instead. It didn’t take long for him to make it to the MLB, and since May 2014 he has been a reliable member of the Blue Jays pitching staff.
He had tremendous numbers in the AA and AAA ranks, where he compiled a 14-10 record over twenty-nine starts and a 3.30 ERA. He also managed to have a strikeout to walk ratio of 4-1 as he recorded 209K’s with only 50 walks.
At Duke he showed promise and was worthy of the first-round selection. He boasted a 15-13 record and still holds the school record for strikeouts with 290 over 222.0 innings pitched. The 2015 season may have gone awry with the right knee injury, but he was able to find success elsewhere; in his time on the DL he returned to Duke and completed his degree in Sociology.
He made his first MLB start on May 4th 2014 and pitched six innings, giving up only five hits and striking out six. If he can manage to produce a similar stat line this afternoon, the Blue Jays organisation would be sufficiently pleased. In his rookie campaign, he worked to an 11-6 record and a 3.65 ERA. He also managed to pitch 130.2 innings and have 111 strikeouts in the process.
He came back from injury last year on a tear (a good one, unlike the one in his right knee in April). He pitched a September that was a Cye Young-calibre performance. A 4-0 record, 1.67 ERA, 27.0 innings with 18 K’s, and a 0.96 WHIP to boot. If he can translate this success into a full season in 2016, watch out!
Over his brief career he has shown he can be a threat on the mound at the MLB level. He has a 15-6 record along with a 3.31 ERA. He is also very economical with his pitches, on average only needing sixteen per inning. He rarely gives up the long ball, surrendering a mere nine in his career. You will also rarely see him give up walks as over 157.2 IP he has only given up 34.
2016 is set to be a breakout year for Stroman. The hashtag in Toronto for 2016 may be #OurMoment but for Stroman this season will also be his moment to shine.
My 2016 prediction:
18-8 with a 2.97 ERA, 193.2 innings pitched, and 180 strikeouts.
You can follow Marcus on Twitter @MStrooo6 and watch him take the mound this afternoon at 4pm Eastern as the Blue Jays open their season at Tampa Bay.
To all baseball fans, enjoy the 2016 season and be sure to check out Super Two Sports on Facebook and Twitter @SuperTwo_Sports