Marcus Stroman began this season with the New York Mets 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA after three starts. It looked like he would indeed live up to the lofty expectations he puts on himself.
However, in his last five outings, Stroman has looked much more human. He lost three straight decisions before pitching well in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles. On Sunday, however, he turned in a rather underwhelming performance. Stroman did last six innings but allowed five earned runs on six hits and a walk. Stroman struck out just a single Tampa Bay Rays batter while allowing three home runs.
A 3-4 record and 2.72 ERA after eight starts is nothing to DFA a player over. It’s hard to even criticize his season when his overall numbers look favorable. Even with the increasing ERA, Stroman has only two starts this year with more than a pair of earned runs credited to him.
The results of his season have been a mixed bag from great to not so good. If there is one thing to wish was different, it’s the number of innings he has thrown. More specifically, why isn’t his pitch count going up higher?
Can we ever get a 100-pitch game out of this super-talented Mets pitcher?
It’s not fully Stroman’s fault that we have yet to see a 100-pitch performance. He has already left early because of a tight hamstring. And at this point of the season with players hitting the IL like crazy, it’s important not to overwork him. In April, the team was likely also easing him in as he missed all of 2020 after opting out.
It still strikes me as odd that Stroman wouldn’t have crossed the triple-digit threshold yet this season because of how not so uncommon it is. He has pitched well enough several times to get there. His season-high of 98 came in a loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. Stroman exited after completing five frames. I’m curious, if the Mets were ahead, would he have stayed out longer?
His longest appearance of the year, his eight-inning performance against the Colorado Rockies, included only 90 pitches. It was his last brilliant outing of the year, too. Each time out since Stroman has delivered 64-98 pitches with a varying number of innings.
Stroman is the kind of guy built to get through games on a minimal number of pitches. His low strikeout rate and high groundball conversion help make him one of the game’s speedier pitchers as far as a pace of play goes.
To my surprise, since joining the Mets in 2019, he has only two starts featuring 100+ pitches. They came in his second outing with the team in August 2019 and his last start of the season that same year. The games had 108 and 112 pitches, respectively.
Marcus Stroman isn’t a stranger to 100 pitch performances
In his Toronto Blue Jays days, 100 pitches weren’t uncommon for Stroman. I was curious to see how many it took in his two complete games back in 2017 and when they took place. His second and fourth starts of the year included nine frames from Stroman. He threw 100 pitches in the first (which was actually a loss) and 99 in the second (a victory).
Among the 33 starts he made in 2017, 13 of them had 100 pitches from him. Three times he threw 100+ pitches three times in a row. It’s not really out of the question for him to do it again unless the Mets really are trying to hold him back.
I know 100 pitches don’t matter nearly as much as the total number of innings. An efficient pitcher like him can get through eight and not run up to 100.
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Curiously, I wonder how closely the Mets have watched his pitch count in 2021. If the bullpen continues to show some weaknesses, maybe we do finally see another triple-digit performance from him. Until then, we’ll have to be cool with double-digits and hope the Stro Show remains brilliant more often than not.