Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman last season lugged around a career-worse ERA of 5.54 and was limited to just 19 starts because of blister problems and shoulder fatigue. Jump forward to 2019, and Stroman, now in his age-28 campaign, is back to vintage form:
Stroman’s coming off a a quality start against the Angels on Tuesday night, and now his for the season stands at an impressive 135. In not unrelated matters, Stroman’s also enjoyed a bit of a velocity rebound in 2019. His resurgence in tandem with the Blue Jays’ ongoing rebuild mean the (comparatively) diminutive right-hander is likely going to be a hot name leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Teams of course look beyond the current season when it comes to trade targets, and Stroman offers an impressive dossier. He boasts a career ERA+ of 111 and an FIP (or— i.e., what a pitcher’s ERA would probably look like with league-average defensive support and neutral luck) that’s never been worse than 3.91 in any single season. Stroman’s also been free of major arm problems, and he’s twice topped 200 innings in a season (he’s on pace to do so once again in 2019).
To put that in context, the average AL starting pitcher this season has an ERA of 4.53, so SportsLine expects Stroman to be significantly better than that while answering the bell every time. Of course, given that Stroman has a career ERA of 3.83 in the DH league and is at an age that lends itself to prime performance, it’s entirely possible he’ll be best that forecast.
Beyond that, Stroman this season is owed the balance of an exceedingly modest $7.4 million salary, and he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season. That additional year of control will greatly add to his appeal on the market and, by extension, significantly raise the Jays’ asking price.
Stroman’s also a deep-repertoire sort. He leans on his sinker-slider-cutter trio, but he also works in a four-seamer and changeup. Having the ability to throw that many pitches at the highest level increases the chances that Stroman’s abundant pitch mix would benefit from a new set of coaching eyes. On another level, he’s a demonstrative and intensely competitive sort whose mere presence could energize a contender. As always, those teams are spoiling for rotation help.
Speaking of rotation help, contenders interested in the likes of Stroman may include the Yankees, Rays, Cardinals, Rangers, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, and Brewers. Given the other starters that might hit the market, the Jays would be wise to help their position by being willing to trade Stroman within the AL East. Given Stroman’s performance baseline and the fact that he’ll under team control for 2020, they should be able to find an eager taker and add to their collection of young talent in return. Stroman, meantime, will get to pitch for a relevant team for the first time since 2016.