Just the fact he has avoided the injured list this season and taken the ball on his regular turn places Marcus Stroman on a pedestal for the Mets.
Add his performance and it’s easy to say the right-hander has been the team’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
“I think he’s stabilized us in a lot of ways,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said of Stroman, who is scheduled to face the Nationals on Saturday. “He’s been our most consistent starter, so we know every fifth day, we know what we’re going to get.”
Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi are among the pitchers who haven’t been there every fifth day for a Mets rotation that has been seemingly held together with rubber bands and chewing gum at various points. Another key starter, Taijuan Walker, fizzled for a stretch after the All-Star break before returning to form recently.
Stroman, with a 2.85 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 26 starts, has shown a big fastball isn’t necessary to succeed. His average fastball velocity of 92.3 mph ranks in the 26th percentile according to baseball savant. Instead, the 30-year-old Stroman thrives with his sinker and developed a “split changeup” to provide another look.
“I’m not someone who depends on a particular pitch or needs to game-plan a certain way,” Stroman recently said. “I can kind of adapt. I can throw certain pitches depending on what is feeling good that day. It’s just a matter of getting my mind and my body right and then everything kind of goes from there.”
This success places Stroman, an impending free agent, in position to command a significant contract this winter. Last offseason, he returned on a qualifying offer worth $18.9 million. With so much uncertainty facing the Mets rotation — perhaps none larger than the status of deGrom’s right elbow as he ramps up for a potential late-season return — Stroman’s value to the club has increased.
Syndergaard and Michael Conforto are the other impending free agents the Mets have to consider. Both could receive qualifying offers from the club — unlike Stroman, who is precluded from such consideration because he accepted it last offseason.
“I am sure [the contract] is a motivating factor, but that is not something he brings up to us,” Hefner said. “It’s all about the team and competing and going out and winning ballgames.”
The addition of the split changeup — a pitch against which opponents have posted a meager .198 batting average — has largely helped transform Stroman, but there’s also been his approach.
“Not walking guys, being in the zone, competitive in the zone, especially early,” Hefner said. “Not being afraid to pitch to contact at times when it’s needed have all led to his success.
“Taijuan was really consistent at the beginning and then he went through a little bit of a lull around the All-Star break and then he’s kind of coming out of it and we’re getting those consistent starts again. But [Stroman] has been Mr. Consistency in his work, in his routine, in his preparation and ultimately in his results.”
Business News Governmental News Finance News
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.