2014 Stats: 7-5, 92 IP, 4.11 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .255 BAA, 21 BB, 73 K (20 G/15 GS)
The Toronto Blue Jays (65-63) lost for the seventh time in their last 10 games on Friday, as Drew Smyly and the Tampa Bay Rays shut them out, 8-0. With the loss, the Blue Jays are now nine games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and they trail the Seattle Mariners by 4.5 games in the wild-card race.
Toronto’s pitchers collectively are having their worst month of the season, ranking 14th in the AL in ERA (5.10 ERA) and 13th in WHIP (1.42 WHIP). They also have the fewest strikeouts (129) of any team in the league. A major reason the Blue Jays staff has struggled as of late is because rookie Marcus Stroman, who is having an impressive season overall, has been lit up in three of his last four starts.
Between June and July, Stroman’s first two months as a full-time starter in the major leagues, he was 5-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 57-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 62 innings (10 starts). In July specifically, the right-hander posted a 1.71 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 31.2 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .193/.246/.246 batting line.
However, the 23-year-old’s success hasn’t carried over into August. Stroman gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits and three walks over five innings on Friday, raising his August ERA to 8.66 over 17.2 innings (four starts).
Meanwhile, opposing hitters are batting .338 against him during that span. And if you were to remove his Aug. 9, nine-inning gem against the Tigers from the equation, Stroman’s ERA would sit at an even more dismal 15.59.
Since joining Toronto’s rotation, Stroman has turned in strong outings against AL contenders, including the Royals (6 IP, 5 H, ER, 6 K), New York Yankees (8 IP, 3 H, ER, 7 K), Oakland A’s (7 IP, 3 H, 7 K) and Tigers (9 IP, 4 H, 2 ER). However, the Blue Jays are just 7-8 in Stroman’s starts, with five of those losses coming in the only games in which he failed to complete six innings.
If the Blue Jays are going to remain in the playoff race down the stretch, they’ll need Stroman to get back on track and ideally return to his June/July form.