The Bisons lost a heart breaker 3-2 in their series finale against Lehigh Valley Tuesday afternoon. The return of Marcus Stroman not only to Buffalo but also to the starting rotation was spoiled as a ninth inning rally was stomped out.
The major story of the day was of course Stroman’s return. The prized prospect had mixed results but ultimately pitched well shinning off the rust that had built up while he sat in the Jays’ bullpen. He was working on a 65-70 pitch limit, but due to his efficient work he was able to get through five innings. Stroman and manager Gary Allenson agreed that he was working in the upper part of the zone far too often. He was able to get away with it for the most part, but his low 90’s fastball will not be blowing past to many big league hitters.
In total he gave up three runs during his five innings and all three came on a monster homerun hit by Lehigh first basemen Jim Murphy. Stroman pounded the zone throwing 40 of his 64 pitches for strikes, only walking one in that time. He started to fall behind hitters as the game progressed, and the second time through the order they started to jump on his fastball. With that said he was one pitch away from throwing five shutout innings, so there is reason for optimism.
Stroman was brought back down because the transition to the bullpen in Toronto was not a smooth one.
"When I was up there at the time I felt like I was pitching like a starter out of the bullpen. I didn’t know what pitches to go to. That was the hardest adjustment," he said. "It felt good to get back out there in the starters role. Now I feel like I have a good amount of weapons, so why not use them when you can".
These are the things that you would want to hear from a pitcher. He has a starter’s mentality with the depth and quality of pitches to be successful doing so. Ideally he would have gone up and dominated in every role, but within two weeks he could be back to being the pitcher we saw in the early season. Liam Hendriks will likely fill the void in the rotation as Stroman gets his work in here, but he is really just a place holder. It is only a matter of time before Stroman makes his return, and this time it could be for good.
It should also be mentioned that both Brad Glenn and Munenori Kawasaki continued to swing hot bats. Glenn doubled for his third straight game and also knocked a base hit the opposite way in the sixth. Kawasaki extended his hitting streak with a third inning double. It was his eight of the month, which is impressive considering the inconsistent playing time he has received. Austin Bibens-Dirkx also added three innings of one hit shutout relief behind Stroman.
The team is now heading down to Louisville to start a long road trip. They will get the day off tomorrow before starting their series with the Bats. Kyle Drabek will look to rebound after a poor outing in his last start for the herd.