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The Season that Was: Marcus Stroman

A look at Marcus Stroman's 2014 season.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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We have a sponsored post today, fortunately it fits with something I was going to write anyway. The theme of the post is 'who on your team has a million dollar arm', since the nice Disney folks want you to know that their 'Million Dollar Arm' movie is now out on DVD. Of course, all our pitchers arms are worth more than a million dollars...with the MLB minimum at half a million. What they are asking for is a post on the pitcher with the best arm.

The Blue Jays with arguably the best arm is Marcus Stroman. Since I'm doing reviews of each of the Blue Jays 2014 anyway, let's combine the sponsored post with something I was going to do, win win.

Stroman came into 2014 after a very good 2013 season, shortened by a 50 game suspension, for using the wrong cold medicine (or that's the story, let's go with it). The suspension might have helped him out since he worked out in Florida, working on pitches, during the suspension. After the suspension, he made 20 starts for New Hampshire, going 9-5 with a 3.30 ERA. in 111.2 innings he allowed 99 hits, 27 walks and 129 strikeouts. The worrying stat was the 13 home runs allowed, but he definitely solidified his spot as a top prospect. There was some debate on whether he would end up a starter or a reliever.

Coming into spring training, he didn't have much of a chance to make the team, but then several of the guys that were expected to make the team had a terrible time of it. Unfortunately, Stroman didn't have a great spring either, and was sent to Buffalo.  He had a terrific April, putting up a 1.69 ERA in 5 starts and he got the call up to help out in the Jays pen when Brandon Morrow went on the DL.

That first call up, he wasn't great, to say the least, he gave up 9 earned in 6.1 innings, allowing 10 hits, 1 walk with 4 strikeouts. Most of the damage came in 2 really bad outings, where he gave up 8 earned in 3 innings. He was sent back to Buffalo, to stretch his arm back out to be ready to come back to the Jays and join the rotation.

In total, at Buffalo, he was 2-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 7 starts, 1 complete game. in 35.2 innings he allowed 32 hits, walked 9 and struck out 45.

He came back up at the end of May was put in the rotation and never looked back.

His stats:

Fangraphs had him at a 3.3 WAR (second on the team to Mark Buehrle), making him worth $18 million to the Jays. Baseball Reference had him at a much lower 2.0 WAR. He also pinch ran for us occasionally and scored 2 runs.

He struck out 20.8% of the batters he faced (7.9/9 innings), walked 5.2% (1.9/9 innings) and he allowed home runs .48 home run per 9 innings.

Marcus gave up 18.5% line outs, 53.8% ground outs and 27.7% fly outs. 6.5% of his flies left the park.

He had a .306 BABIP. His FIP was 2.84 and his xFIP 3.17.

Marcus was better at home (7-2, 2.63 ERA, batters hit .212/.249/.295) than on the road (4-4, 5.60 ERA, batters hit .312/.361/.418). I'd imagine the home/road splits were more a sample size thing than anything else, but maybe he is more comfortable in Rogers Centre.

His left/right splits were pretty even. Lefties hit .232/.287/.359 against him. Right-handers hit .269/.298/.322.

Marcus by month:

May: 2-0, 7.30 ERA. 6 games, 1 start, 12.1 innings. Batters hit .333/.351/.519 against him.

June: 2-2, 2.67 ERA. 5 starts, 30.1 innings. Batters hit .223/.279/.366.

July: 3-0, 1.71 ERA. 5 starts, 31.2 innings. Batters hit .193/.246/.246.

August: 1-3, 6.75 ERA. 5 starts. 25.1 innings. Batters hit .305/.360/.390.

September: 3-1, 2.61 ERA. 5 games, 4 starts. 31.0 innings. Batters hit .241/.261/.284.

He had 3 poor starts in August. July was pretty amazing.

His longest win streak was 4 games, running from June 23 to July 29. He had a 3 game losing streak from August 3 to August 22.

His best Game Score was a 89, on September 8, Marcus pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just 3 hits, no walks with 8 strikeouts. He also had an 80 on July 24, against the Red Sox. That last relief appearance was something pretty amazing too. 4 innings, 1 hit allowed, no walks and 4 strikeouts.

His worst Game Score was a 23, August 15, in Chicago, against the White Sox. He gave up 5 hits, 5 earned, while just getting 2 outs.

Stroman was my favorite starter to watch. He seemed to be having fun, and he gives me hope for the future. He had some bad starts, but you have to expect that. He did seem to have problems shaking off bad calls at the plate on occasion. Then, he was better at it than I'd be.

There was the pitch that he threw behind the head of Caleb Joseph's head. I'm all for pitching inside. I'm ok with a message pitch thrown at a guys thigh or hip. Pitches up at the that's no sending a message that's bad stuff. He did seem to understand, later, that it was the wrong thing to do. I wouldn't expect it to happen again.

Shi Davidi said this:

Beyond the impressive numbers Marcus Stroman continues to post, the thing that bodes particularly well for his future is how he's found ways to recover quickly and adjust after the rare occasions when he's struggled.

And he's right, it seems like Marcus doesn't carry a bad start into his next start. It is a very good skill to have.

By Fangraphs numbers, Stroman was tied with Collin McHugh of the Astros for top WAR by a rookie pitcher this season. Jose Abreu will win the Rookie of the Year, but I hope Marcus will receive some notice from the voters. He is easily the Blue Jays rookie of the year.

I think it is fair to say that he has the best arm on the team. I guess you could make a case for Aaron Sanchez but let's see him pitch for us a little more.  "Million Dollar Arm"? I'd say his arm is worth a lot more than that. Wouldn't you like to have the money Marcus is going to earn over his career?

This might have been the scariest moment of the season: