Marcus Stroman is a beast.
Well, okay, maybe he’s not a beast, beast. Not like Hallday was a beast or Donaldson is a beast. He’s a young beast. A mini-beast. The man who would be beast… Okay, okay, he’s got a lot of beast potential.
I like Stroman. Hell, everyone one likes Stroman. He’s so likeable, he makes rehabbing sound like something the Jays should sell tickets to. If I was on that Blue Jays roster, I would like nothing more than to have his energy shoulder to shoulder with my own as we stormed the gates of postseason glory. However, when it comes to assessing his value to the Jays postseason run, we need to put our feelings aside and look at him objectively, beyond the postseason roster election campaign he’s running on his Twitter feed.
Here are the facts: Stroman will have missed nearly a full season of play if he returns this year. And if he shows up, it will be just in time to face teams who have spent the same stretch he’s been rehabbing refining their own killing efficiency. This wont be a September audition opportunity, not like so many Septembers have been in Toronto’s past. This will be a warzone. Unless something has gone terribly wrong or terribly right, the Jays will be in contention.
It’s not that I don’t have faith in Stroman, or that I don’t think he has a role to play. In fact, I’m sure he’s eating this article up as more fuel for the perpetual fire in his belly. I really do think he’s going to be something special. I just don’t think he is something so special the Jays must have him in order to win.
Stroman’s first season was more than a solid debut, but this season, the one he has all but missed, was supposed to cement him into the Jays rotation as a fixture. He often gets heralded as the Ace, but the term Ace is largely defined in relation to the values of the cards around it. Stroman was the Jays would-be Ace of 2015, which, honestly, wasn’t saying a lot before the season’s start. There were so many question marks in that rotation… Not to undersell Stroman’s 2014; an 11-6 record with a 3.65 ERA (and a 2.84 FIP over 130 IP with only 7HRs/ 111 K’s for you geeks) can make you the Ace of a lot of clubs, but, Ace title or not, it was going to take more than Stroman to put the Jays rotation into contention.
And 2014 Stroman is (probably) not the Stroman you’re getting back. You’re getting an injury-interrupted Stroman. He’s not a 6 year veteran pitcher with post season tempering, either. You’re getting a kid, off his first injury—a long injury—that will be less than a few weeks removed from throwing to low-level hitters from behind an L screen, thrust into Blue Jays play-off history.
The Jays have found pitching. Maybe it’s not the best pitching in the league, but the Jays already have the best hitting by wide margin—they didn’t need a huge bump to be viable.
Price is what Stroman could be. Buehrle is an Adamantium Horse. Estrada, while not a lock, has been excellent. Even Dickey has flown under the radar as a solid contributor. Hutchison can be shot into the sun for all I care, but, chances are you wont even need a 4th or 5th starter in the post season. Shoot, since you’re most likely not going to be able to re-sign Price, throw him out there every other day if you want!
What the Jays will need is a solid pen, full of out getting wizards who can come into a game, slam their staff on the pitching mound and scream, “you shall not pass!” That is a role I can see Stroman playing well. It doesn’t require him to be stretched out to 5 innings or longer to play, and it can allow him to make an immediate impact.
If the Jays can give (or force) Stroman to take enough time to seriously, genuinely get back into the shape required for the task at hand, then I’d bless his return in a heartbeat. He’s a clear upgrade to many of the Jays’ current options. He has the kinda stuff that plays at any level, in any situation. But his rushed return is not necessary for this team to keep doing what it’s doing—It’s a bonus.
I’m sure Stroman wants to be a part of it, but whether he’s part of it for this run or not is irrelevant. All the Jays really need him to do is be ready to pitch next year. No need to jeopardize a sure thing for a chance to gamble. That said, if Super Stro is given the requisite time, and is allowed the opportunity to get his big league bearings this September, clear out a playoff roster spot for him because you’d be stupid not to.
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