Why Marcus Stroman, Cardinals are a perfect match

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Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

Dan Buffa, SPECIAL FOR THE JEWISH LIGHT

It’s no secret the Cardinals are looking for pitching this offseason, preferably starting pitching. So, why would Marcus Stroman and the Cardinals be a perfect match? Following a year where they lost three key starters for large portions of the season, signing Stroman would show fans that the front office won’t be tentative this time around.

Don’t repeat last offseason

Acquiring Nolan Arenado amid a fleecing of the Colorado Rockies, there was still work to be done before 2021 got started. Miles Mikolas was coming off surgery, Carlos Martinez was returning from bullpen duty and a lost season, and Kwang Hyun Kim’s value was unknown.

Before May could finish, Jack Flaherty went down with an injury that would plague his entire season. Martinez was awful in six starts and then sidelined for the rest of the season with an injury. Mikolas made it back, aggravated something, missed more time, and made it back late. The rotation was assembled out of duct tape until the second half stretched its legs, so repeating that setup would be futile.

Enter Marcus Stroman

First, don’t fret about the age. The former Toronto Blue Jay and New York Met starting pitcher will turn 31 in May–so it’s a good thing age isn’t having much of an effect on his pitching. Nothing bad at least. Stroman has pitched just over a 1,000 innings in his career, which cemented itself in Toronto.

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Stroman was just 23 when he stormed onto the American League East scene back in 2014, compiling an impressive 3.65 ERA/2.84 FIP mark in 20 starts. FIP stands for fielding independent pitching, proof that a pitcher can get outs on his own. After a key adjustment a few years back following Tommy John surgery, Stroman has become even more of a strikeout threat on the mound, averaging 9.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings last season.

Why Stroman fits the Cardinals needs to a tee

He is a ground ball specialist. In other words, his key pitch happens to be his sinker. Stroman threw it 40% of the time throughout 2021, releasing the pitch to the plate just under 92 miles-per-hour. He also employed a slider that sat around 85 mph, tempting the hitter to decide between sitting back a little or pouncing early. The Cardinals have long adored the ground ball-reliant sinker-baller who can jet up and collect a strikeout if needed.

Stroman fits the bill to a tee, and he hasn’t even pitched in front of a great defense yet. The 2022 starting infield for St. Louis should employ three (at least) gold glovers backing him up. Match that with his grounder-inducing abilities, and the outs will pour in.

Stroman is steady 

For his career, Stroman’s ERA and FIP marks are 3.63 and 3.62, respectively. That means over two teams and two leagues with 173 starts scattered around, he has given the team a very reliable chance to win games. Also, he’s striking more batters out as he ages. Imagine getting him out of the overachieving Mets home park and over to a pitcher’s paradise like Busch Stadium.

No, he is not Mike Leake 2.0, or Brett Cecil 2.0 for that matter. Stroman has reached big success with two different teams, and age or a team change hasn’t deterred him so far.

The final say

If the Cardinals want to go big on pitching instead of securing a shortstop for the next 4-6 years, Stroman is the arm you sign. Max Scherzer is a dreamboat acquisition except for the fact that he will cost $40 million at least and age isn’t exactly on his side. Marcus Stroman is the next best thing to St. Louis, and all the Cardinals need.

Flaherty and a guy named Adam Wainwright are back in the saddle. Dakota Hudson showed a strong arm in a relief role in the final week of the season. Love or hate the Mikolas extension, but he does collect outs when healthy. Stroman isn’t a savior by any means, but he would fit the ideal #3 starter position this team currently craves.