NEW YORK — Marcus Stroman proved his health.
The question now is whether the Toronto Blue Jays starter proved to Brian Cashman that he should be the apple of the New York Yankees GM’s eye heading into the July 31 trade deadline.
The answer likely has more to do with Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins’ asking price rather than anything Stroman did or didn’t do on Sunday, but with his stuff jumping and the results confirming he’s the same consistent right-hander we’ve seen all season long, the 28-year-old certainly did his part to provide his current team with some all-important leverage.
It’s just one start, but with Stroman touching 95 mph with his sinker and his ground-balling ways on display, Sunday’s outing is certainly better than him going out and scuffling and looking rusty.
Whether or not he makes his next start, scheduled for Friday in Detroit against the Tigers, is the question on everyone’s mind now, and it’s sure to dominate the headlines this week.
Asked by a New York scribe if Sunday’s outing felt like an audition, Stroman pointed to the 775.2 innings he’s thrown over his career.
“Not at all,” Stroman said. “I have 800 innings in the AL East. I would never consider one start an audition.”
After saying at the All-Star Game that he sees the writing on the wall when it comes to his future, or lack thereof, in Toronto, Stroman now wants to focus solely on pitching and not his future address.
“It's hard to just think about the future like that,” Stroman said. “I truly think if I start to think about it like that, it's going to throw me off my game and it's going to throw me out of a loop mentally, physically. So I'm doing my best to just really focus on the moment and do whatever I can to be at my best in Detroit on Friday.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo wasn’t thinking about the fact it could be Stroman’s last outing in a Jays uniform either.
At least that’s what he said publicly.
Privately, everyone on the coaching staff knows his days are numbered.
“I don't know about that,” Montoyo said after his team dropped the rubber-match of the three-game series in the Bronx. “All I know is that he's healthy, he did a good job and hopefully he'll be pitching (for us).
“He was really good, he was sharp, and he kept us in the game like he always does. He was throwing 95, which is as hard as he has thrown this year. He has been around 92-93, but today he reached 95 so that was good to see. He's healthy, he did a good job again.”
That’s the most important part of this equation, his health.
When Stroman exited his June 29 start against the Kansas City Royals with a left pec cramp, one that lingered longer than expected, the front office and the fan base both held their collective breath.
Everyone has realized how important Stroman is to the rebuild, not with his arm and a bird on his cap, but as a tradable commodity, one with an attractive additional year of team control.
Sunday’s six-inning, three-run outing leaves Stroman’s ERA at a tidy 3.25, and when you combine that with his return to health, the Jays have the leverage they need to turn him into multiple pieces that align better with the group of young players already in place.
Stroman may not be seen as the best option on the market — there’s an argument to be made that he is, however — but his age, track record and the fact an acquiring team will get him for two postseason runs make him a fit for even fringe contenders that could be looking at 2020.
Stroman has continually pointed to his track record in the AL East, the toughest division in baseball for a pitcher.
He’s not wrong.
Another thing to consider is his success in the second half of the season.
Prior to the all-star break over his career, Stroman has posted a 4.14 ERA.
But after the break that number drops to 3.35.
The sample size is large enough to believe in it.
Stroman is well aware of that, and Atkins should be pointing it out in trade talks, as well.
“I truly believe that I always get stronger as the year goes on,” Stroman said. “I've always been a second-half pitcher. I think I'm going to have a pretty special second half. My body feels great. My arm feels great and it's just a matter of sticking true to my workouts and I think I'm going to get stronger as the year goes on.”