When David Price was acquired by the Blue Jays last summer, the sentiment among many was “finally … the Blue Jays have a bona fide ace.”
Not since the days of Roy Halladay had the Blue Jays enjoyed that level of stability in their starting rotation; someone they could go to every five days and expect to win.
And then just like that … Price was gone.
After experiencing a whirlwind summer and fall with the Blue Jays, David Price went and signed with one of Jays’ most heated rivals: the Boston Red Sox.
The Blue Jays gave up a lot in the way of prospects to bring in David Price as a hired gun for the last two months of the regular season. Not only is Price now gone, but so too are all those young prospects.
However, in bringing in David Price for that very short span, the Blue Jays may have unknowingly passed the baton from one ace to another; from David Price to Marcus Stroman.
As Marcus Stroman prepares to take the hill as the third youngest Opening Day starter in Blue Jays history, he also takes the hill as one of the most confident individuals to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform.
Being bestowed with the “ace” moniker doesn’t happen overnight; Marcus Stroman isn’t quite there yet, but he has all the makings of the Blue Jays’ next ace in the making.
What he lacks in pedigree and experience, Marcus makes up for in confidence in attitude. Stroman is approaching the 2016 season with an ace-like mentality, as he told Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet this offseason.
“I want to be the guy that the team counts on every single time I go out there to get a win. I want to be a guy to throw 200-plus innings. I want to be the ace. I want to be the ace of the staff for many, many years.
I want to be the best in the game. That’s why I work like I do. And I’ll continue to do so until I am.”
Marcus Stroman’s career arc has seen some unusual dips and dives these past few years. Just prior to his ACL injury, he was poised to do what he’s about to do this afternoon, and that’s open the season as the Blue Jays number one starter. The hype going into Stroman’s 2015 was at an all-time high, and then it all of sudden came crashing down.
The Stroman hype which was building for months and months on end? It went down the tubes, and in a small way … so too did a little bit of hope for the 2015 Blue Jays.
But down the stretch last season and into the playoffs, those hopes and dreams for Stroman which had been hibernating for six long months finally came to a head.
If you need any proof as to this organization’s faith in Marcus Stroman, just go back to Game 5 of the ALDS last year. With their season hanging in the balance in a decisive fifth game, the Blue Jays opted to start Marcus Stroman and not David Price.
To me, that said a lot not only about the Jays’ confidence in Stroman, but at the time, perhaps a lack of faith in Price. The Jays opted not to start the pitcher whom they specifically acquired to pitch in those situations in lieu of a pitcher just fresh of ACL surgery.
As mentioned, Marcus Stroman is a confident character. So much so, that even if by some miracle David Price did re-sign with the Blue Jays, Stroman was planning on still being the number one starter in Toronto.
At least, that’s what we learned from David Price after he spoke to the Toronto Sun. Stroman was ready to push Price as the top dog in the Blue Jays’ rotation:
“I remember last year Stroman was like, ‘Even if you sign back in Toronto, I’m going to lead this staff. I want to throw that ball on Opening Day.’
And that’s good to hear, he wants to not only be ‘The Guy’ on the Blue Jays, he wants to be the ‘The Guy’ in the American League or in all of baseball.”
We’re working off a hypothetical situation here, but if Marcus Stroman was ready to go toe-to-toe with David Price to be the number one starter on the Jays, that tells me Stroman is absolutely ready to lead this pitching staff … even at the age of just 24.
In a situation like that, Stroman might defer to the veteran and let the most tenured player take the reins of the team, but Marcus said he’s going to “lead this staff”.
And lead he shall.
It feels like this moment – starting Opening Day for the Blue Jays – has been a long time coming for Marcus Stroman. But it’s easy to forget that Stroman is relatively young and it’s still very early in his big league career. It only feels much longer because Stroman’s setbacks have forced his coming out party to be delayed by several years.
But after all the adversity Marcus Stroman has experienced in his short time in the Blue Jays organization, he’s learned to delay that gratification. And thus far, it’s worked as yet another motivational tool … not as if Stroman needs another one.
Is Marcus Stroman ready to take over for David Price and become the next ace of the Toronto Blue Jays? As Marcus would likely say himself … “100%“.