Marcus Stroman is not having a promising debut with the Mets. Can he make timely adjustments to change that…
Marcus Stroman came to the Mets all afire. He is, he says, in the element where he belongs. Center stage in New York City where his team is solidly in the throes of a pennant race.
But he has been anything but illustrious in his five starts since arriving here in a trade with Cleveland that sent two talented pitching prospects, LHP Anthony Kay and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Indians at the trade deadline.
Stroman is 1-1 in five starts since then. His ERA is almost five (4.91), and in 25.1 innings Stroman has surrendered five home runs.
His performance against the Cubs in a critical series opener is a microcosm highlighting the pitfalls. Two two-run home runs against him all but eliminated hopes of Mets fans who had been buoyed by Pete Alonso‘s record-breaking home run that gave the Mets a brief lead.
It didn’t help that Yu Darvish chose this game to finally earn some of the money the Cubs are paying for his services. Eight splendid innings, five hits, and one run were kind enough to shut the Mets down, costing the team another game in the race to catch the Cubs for the final Wild Card spot. C’est la vie, there are thirty or so games left to play.
Marcus Stroman: A Season At A Crossroad
This is about Marcus Stroman, though. A diminutive 5’7″ right-hander, Stroman relies on pinpoint control of his pitches. His height is almost a matter of pride. Insisting he measured himself earlier this year, Stroman persists in correcting reporters and baseball publications who list him at 5’8″.
Even today, with the home run explosion seen throughout baseball, the National League is still a low-ball league. Striving to keep the ball down, Stroman is finding it difficult to adjust to his tendencies in the American League to get the batter out up in the zone.
So now, when he misses, Stroman is in-between, leaving the pitch belt-high and square in a hitter’s happy zone. Stroman will make the necessary adjustments.
A veteran of six major league seasons, Stroman has pitched to a 3.76 ERA, which in the DH’ing American League equates to a 3.25 (my guesstimate) in the NL. Not too shabby.
Time Is Not On Stroman’s Side
The question is, though, if Stroman will figure it out in time to help the Mets this season. On the line is not only repercussions for the Mets, but also whether or not Stroman will be pitching for the team in 2020.
Stroman is in the final year of arbitration before he becomes a free agent in 2021. In arbitration, Stroman is assured of getting an increase from his salary this year of $7.4 million.
Usually, Stroman at only 28, would seem to be someone the Mets would want to lock up with a three-four year offer at the end of the 2019 season. That strategy is iffy at the moment.
But Stroman is also fighting another battle. Whatever his visions of New York City were as a kid when he played travel-ball with Steven Matz in the suburbs of Long Island, they can be nothing like the reality of pitching at Citi Field before a roaring crowd of 40,000 hungry playoff fans. Cleveland, Ohio is not New York City.
Stroman asked for it, and now he has it. A self-proclaimed inner self strategist, Stroman has five or six starts to be the pitcher he can be. Mickey Callaway will continue to run him out there. If he doesn’t rebound and adapt quickly though, that fifth and sixth start may prove meaningless for the Mets. No one wants that…