When you look at the numbers that Marcus Stroman has put up for the Toronto Blue Jays this year, you can’t help but wonder why he’s available in so many fantasy leagues.
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Sometimes you need to look a little deeper to answer questions like this. In this case, though, they only raise more questions.
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So not only is he putting up great numbers, but he’s been far better in his current role as a starter than as a reliever. Sometimes, guys with great numbers do so with limited K rates, or with some other glaring flaw. But in the case of Stroman, none of that exists.
It’s not a negative as much as it is a question mark — one gigantic question mark.
Being drafted in 2012 and making his Minor League debut that same year, Marcus Stroman doesn’t have much of a professional track record, but he threw more innings in 2013 than in any previous year as a pro, throwing 111.2 innings for Double-A New Hampshire. I will grant that between all of his Minor League stops and Duke, he threw a little more, but that was only 117.1.
Right now, between Triple-A Buffalo and the Blue Jays, Stroman has thrown 103 innings.
Unlike Jacob deGrom with the Mets, I’m not too concerned with the Blue Jays shutting Stroman down unless he’s hurt. While the Nationals did this with Stephen Strasburg two years ago, teams in contention generally don’t do that.
What I don’t know is how well things are going to go once he starts going over his previous highs in innings pitched. Young pitchers, even some who are now the best in the game, generally go through some regression when their innings totals rack up to previously unforeseen heights.
I don’t know that I’d guarantee that will happen with Stroman, but history suggests that it’s quite possible.
It’s not that uncommon for young pitchers to come in and take the world by storm.
Take a guy like Odrisamer Despaigne from the San Diego Padres. He’s had a strong run in the majors, but has also dramatically outperformed anything we’d ever seen from him in the past. I’m certainly not saying that it’s impossible for guys like that to just develop as pitchers and pitch far better in the majors than in the minors but as fantasy owners, we can’t help but wait for the other shoe to drop, at least for a while.
But while Stroman does have his concerns, pitching well above anything he’s ever done before is not one of them.
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Nothing about his current run suggests that Stroman’s been lucky. Similarly, while some regression would appear to be likely, nothing suggests that the regression is likely to be so bad that he really hurts fantasy teams.
What to do
We can’t deny the negatives. We also can’t deny that while the American League East isn’t as strong this year as we’re used to, it’s still a very tough place to pitch and Rogers Centre is no pitcher’s park.
But Stroman is too good a pitcher to ignore right now. He’s not getting great numbers by dominating some games and struggling through others, as young power pitchers tend to do.
No, Stroman is has actually been a consistent arm for the Blue Jays and for the few fantasy owners that have him on the roster. I won’t say he’ll never have a bad start, but the consistency makes me think that those will be few and far between.
If he is going to regress, nothing suggests that the sharp downturn is imminent. If it happens, it will more likely come a few starts down the road. At that point, you can act accordingly.
Until he stops pitching like a star, Marcus Stroman belongs on the majority of fantasy rosters.