“Oh no, not again. Not another one.”
This was the sentiment felt by Blue Jays fans after Marcus Stroman exited last night’s game prematurely. It looked like Stroman left due to an injury, and later it was learned he left due to “arm tightness”.
This instance is happening far too frequently for the Blue Jays through the early part of the 2017 season; a starting pitcher exits the game due to an unknown injury and immediately, the worst is assumed.
In his post game words with the media, Stroman was adamant that he’d be ready for his next start and it was precautionary. If you watch the interview, his demeanor and body language told a very different story.
His answers were short, he kept his head down and he wasn’t the typical bubbly and self-assured Stroman we’ve all been accustomed to hearing from.
Everyone’s hoping Stroman will be able to make his next scheduled start, but after the game, Marcus looked like someone who wasn’t so sure about what would happen. The same went for John Gibbons.
I’m not assuming the worst here – maybe it really was arm tightness and the Blue Jays were being ultra cautious – but the fact is the Blue Jays cannot afford to lose yet another starting pitcher. At this point in the season and as far back as the Jays are already, they can’t afford to have Stroman go down to injury.
If that’s the case, the Blue Jays would be down three starters over the span of three weeks; 60% of the Blue Jays’ starting rotation on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
It’s a scary thought to have yet another Blue Jays pitcher on the DL. Stroman arguably been the best starting pitcher for the Jays this season and may have temporarily supplanted Sanchez as the best starter on the club.
Now with J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez’ statuses up in the air, losing Stroman for any period – whether it’s short or long term – would be a huge blow to the Blue Jays.
Stroman’s early exit also serves as a stark reminder about how quickly things can change for starting pitchers. Just like Noah Syndergarrd, one minute you’re cruising on the mound and the next you’re getting a second and third opinion on your ominous arm injury.
For Stroman, things progressed from “discomfort in the armpit” to “arm tightness”. I’m not saying that’s indicative of a much more serious arm or elbow injury, but the pattern is a little alarming.
Obviously, the more information we learn, the better. In the case of J.A. Happ, the lack of information and updates are a little concerning. “No news is good news” certainly doesn’t apply in this case. The lack of a timetable for Happ’s return is concerning for the Blue Jays.
Not only do they have to deal with that, but then Aaron Sanchez splits his fingernail in his first start back from the disabled list. Now he’s back on the shelf again. And then this happens to Marcus Stroman on Wednesday evening in the Bronx.
Why can’t the Blue Jays catch a break?
Last season, despite a feast-or-famine lineup, the Blue Jays rode their starting rotation into the playoffs. Starting pitching was the Jays’ hallmark in 2016. If they’re going to have a chance in 2017, it’s that very same rotation which will get them there.
Now the Blue Jays are down three arms (temporarily), leaving Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano as the sole carryovers from last season.
Until Happ and Sanchez return and Stroman is cleared to pitch again, the Blue Jays have to find a way to replace 60% of the starting rotation which helped propel them to 89 wins and a playoff berth.
Either that help comes from within the organization, outside the organization in the form of trades or signings, or the Blue Jays merely tread water until their big arms return to the rotation.
In the meantime, Marcus Stroman suffering an injury is the last thing the Blue Jays need right now.