by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There have long been high hopes for the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, with the thought that he could emerge as one of the truly elite starters in the league. To an extent he lived up to that hype in 2017, utilizing groundballs to produce an impressive ERA. However there are significant questions behind the numbers, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll take the next step forward in ’18 or if a regression is imminent. First, let’s take a look at the numbers from last season:
164 Strikeouts (7.34 K/9)
62 Walks (2.78 BB/9)
62.1% Groundball Rate
It’s obvious that his strongest skill is his groundball rate, and it’s his second consecutive season with an elite mark (60.1% in ’16). He also has always shown impressive control, with a career 2.40 BB/9 in the Majors over 562.2 IP… That said there are questions about his control and which is the closer to the truth.
Just look at his marks, by half, over the past two seasons:
- First Half ’16 – 2.56
- Second Half ’16 – 2.15
- First Half ’17 – 2.32
- Second Half ’17 – 3.35
By the All-Star Break we were willing to call it an elite skill, and it has the potential to get there again, but the step backwards does give some cause for concern. He is going to be a solid option, with expectations in the 2.50-2.60 range, with the potential to be even better.
The real question is if he can take a step forward in his strikeout rate, which is the difference between emerging as a true Top 15 option or remaining solid, but not a game changer. Last season he showed signs that a step forward is possible, with a 10.0% SwStr%. The key pitch is his slider, which he increased the usage of (15.76% to 23.02%). That’s the key strikeout pitch, with a 20.50% Whiff%, and the more he’s throwing it the more strikeout potential he carries.
Considering his other skills, all Stroman needs is to get into the 8.00+ K/9 range to potentially be the next superstar starter. Just look at Dallas Keuchel as a potential comparison, and even he has only once shown the type of strikeout stuff that Stroman could grow into.
You put it all together and you get the following projection for 2018:
200.0 IP, 15 W, 3.60 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 181 K (8.15 K/9), 57 BB (2.57 BB/9)
Keep in mind that this projection comes courtesy of a .295 BABIP and 75.7% strand rate. If you want to push the “luck” metrics to the .280/78.3% range, you instead get a 3.24 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, and neither would be considered unattainable. Obviously you aren’t going to need to pay for those types of numbers, but know that the potential is there (especially as there’s a chance the control is even better than this as well).
While the projection may not truly convey the full breakout, it could easily come in ’18. As long as the draft day cost is reasonable, think as a SP3 type, we’d be all in.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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