Stroman hit free agency for the first time in his career this past off-season, but he accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer of $18.9 million, returning to New York for the 2021 season on a one year deal.
Seeing as he hadn’t started a game in over a year and a half, Stroman was a bit of an unknown entity heading into his first game of the 2021 season, as sitting out for such a long stretch of time can definitely have a negative impact on a player’s performance.
However, after a strong spring training, the Mets felt confident enough in Stroman to name him the no. 2 starter behind Jacob deGrom, and handed him the ball for the Mets’ second game of the year, facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Despite going so long without pitching in a profession major league game, Stroman performed effectively in his return to the Mets. Stroman managed to pitch 6 innings in his first start of 2021, giving up one run on 3 hits, 2 walks and 1 HBP while striking out 3, helping to lead the Mets to their first win of the year.
While Stroman posted a good line score on paper, lets take a deeper dive into his start tonight.
Here are 3 big takeaways from Marcus Stroman’s first Mets start of 2021
1) Stroman retained his fastball velocity
While pitchers don’t necessarily need to throw fast in order to be effective, it certainly helps.
One of the fears the Mets had with Stroman missing so much time over the past year and a half was that his arm would weaken and he’d loss some speed off of his pitches.
However, after last night’s start against the Phillies, Stroman likely put those fears to bed.
According to Fangraphs, Stroman’s average fastball velocity throughout his career is 93.9, but in last night’s start, Marcus’s fastball managed to hit 95 MPH.
Despite missing so much time, Stroman has clearly stayed in good physical shape and his arm has not lose any of his strength, which is one less thing the Mets need to worry about with him as the season progresses.
2) Stroman did display some control issues
While Stroman’s fastball velocity is there, he did display some control issues in last nights game.
As previously stated, while Stroman did have a relatively clean line score, he did give up 2 walks and hit a batter. This is by no means the end of the world, but it is not worthy and could be something to watch.
Of the 85 pitches Stroman threw over his 6 innings of work, 33 of them were balls out of the zone, which was 38.8% of all of his pitches.
In addition to the that, he threw a first pitch ball to 8 of the 24 batters he faced over the course of his start.
These control issues lead to Stroman loading the bases in the 2nd inning and he ran 4 full counts over the course of his start.
It is perfectly possible that his nerves from pitching in his first game back in a year and a half are to blame for these issues in his control and they’ll subside as the year progresses, but if these issues continue as the season progresses, next time he may not be so fortunate.
3) Stroman showed resilience in getting out of jams
Despite getting into a few tight spots over the course of the game, Stroman limited the Phillies’ damage to just one run over his 6 innings of work.
One of the big reasons for this is that Stroman was very effective against the Phillies lineup at getting them to hit ground balls, leading to many ground outs.
Of the 18 outs Stroman recorded, 13 were as a result of a ground ball, with 12 of the batters grounding out and 1 of them hitting into a double play. The remainder of the outs he recorded consisted of 3 strike outs and 2 fly balls.
Seeing as the Phillies’ lineup is loaded with power hitters known for hitting homeruns and not many known for their speed on the bases, this proved to be an effective strategy for Stroman, who is not regarded as a big “strike-out” pitcher.
While he did despite some control issues as I mentioned earlier, he very effectively limited the potential damage that could have been caused.
Stroman may have had a few mistakes in his first start of 2021, but he made up for them by pitching out of some tight jams.
Resilience is one of the best qualities to find in a baseball play, and based off of his line score and everything else I observed, while it wasn’t perfect, Stroman had a very successful season debut for the Mets.