The stage is set for the Stro Show. In the decisive game of the ALDS, Marcus Stroman will take the hill for the Toronto Blue Jays; and he likely wouldn’t want it any other way.
It’s been a long and winding road which has led its way up to today. A little over one year ago, Marcus Stroman was poised to become the Blue Jays’ next ace. Those plans were suddenly derailed by his freak injury in Spring Training. But none of that seemed to stop Marcus Stroman.
Considering everything that transpired for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, it’s actually quite remarkable that it’s Marcus Stroman, and not David Price or otherwise who will get the ball for Game 5.
Marcus Stroman is a young man who might only be on the cusp of something amazing, and here he is taking the stage in what could be a career-defining game for him. For a young player who’s only playing in his second year in the big leagues, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Not only is Marcus Stroman ready for the pressure, he’s practically reveling in it:
“I enjoy the pressure; I enjoy the spotlight. This is a big stage and I’m just excited to get out there.
This is an unbelievable moment and time for the city and I’m just excited to be around that energy and to do everything in my power to compete and put my team in a position to win.”
Admittedly, Stroman has an extremely small simple size when it comes to high pressure starts, but he’s been among some of the most composed guys in the Blue Jays’ dugout the entire series. Might that be some of the sage advice from Mark Buehrle rubbing off?
After watching what transpired during his start in Game 2 of the ALDS, Marcus Stroman could’ve very easily unraveled and not many would’ve blamed him for it. To have a comedy of errors and blunders almost entirely derail your game can be quite disheartening.
But it looked like Marcus Stroman only used that as fuel to cruise through seven innings of work in the postseason. Mind you, it was also against one of the best-hitting lineups in baseball during the second half of the season: the Texas Rangers.
Some were a little perturbed that it was Marcus Stroman and not David Price who will start Game 5, but it was absolutely the correct decision for John Gibbons to make. In the postseason, you have to ride the hot hand and go with your best pitcher, and that has been Marcus Stroman.
David Price was acquired by the Blue Jays under the pretenses that he would become the team’s new ace and go-to pitcher in any decisive game. But surprisingly, that title has been at least temporarily taken out of Price’s hands.
With the series back in Toronto for the fifth and deciding game and Marcus Stroman on the mound, you certainly have to like the Blue Jays’ chances. Stroman’s last outing in Game 2 was somewhat overshadowed by some sloppy defensive play behind him and many squandered chances by the Blue Jays offense.
But now that the Blue Jays’ lineup has seemingly corrected itself and is hitting again, and the defensive alignment has stabilized, it’s time for Marcus Stroman to do some real damage against the Texas Rangers.
At the beginning of 2015, I think this was the scenario we all dreamed of (well before David Price was even a possibility in the mind of a Blue Jays fan); having Marcus Stroman pitch in the playoffs with a chance to advance to the next round of the postseason.
In between then and now, a whole lot has transpired, with Marcus Stroman absent for most of it. But none of that really seems to matter now as he has looked like an unflappable veteran on the mound.
No matter what happens today, what Marcus Stroman has already achieved this year is nothing short of a miracle. He came back when almost no one thought he would. And he didn’t just come back, he dominated.
I really do hope that Stroman’s story is far from over this year because it has the potential to go so much further. This truly is the stuff that Disney movies are made of; pitcher is poised to do incredible things, pitcher suffers devastating setback, pitcher returns to prominence and leads his team to glory.
Image via Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP