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Marcus Stroman, the Mets’ second-best starter, to start the year on the IL

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Having joined the Mets in a trade last summer, Stroman slots in as their second-best starter for 2020.

New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

When the Mets traded for Marcus Stroman at the deadline last year, reactions were mixed, as the team was really on the fringe of contention for a playoff spot. The Mets gave up Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson, a pair of pitching prospects who had ranked 10th and 12th in the team’s minor league system on our list of the team’s top prospect before the 2019 season. The Mets got the remainder of last year and all of 2020 with Stroman under contract. Unfortunately, Stroman has a torn calf muscle and was placed on the injured list just a couple of days ago.

In total, the 29-year-old Long Island native had a good season last year, pitching 184.1 innings with a 3.22 ERA and 3.72 FIP between his time with the Blue Jays and Mets. He was a bit better in Toronto, where he had a 2.96 ERA and 3.51 FIP despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park and within the American League East, than he was in his time with the Mets, but the totality of his work was good. And it was a clear bounce back from a 2018 season that saw him post a 5.54 ERA, despite having a 3.91 FIP, in just 102.1 innings of work.

The 2017 season was Stroman’s best combination of quantity and quality, as he threw 201.0 innings with a 3.09 ERA and 3.90 FIP. That makes for two very good seasons in the past three years, and even with that 2018 season in the middle of everything, Stroman’s 3.65 ERA over the past three seasons ranks 30th among all qualified starting pitchers. That list is unsurprisingly topped by Jacob deGrom, whose 2.53 ERA over the same span has been the best in baseball, and Noah Syndergaard, who is out for the year after having Tommy John surgery earlier this year, comes in two spots behind Stroman.

Given the rest of the Mets’ rotation right now—Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and possibly Corey Oswalt or another pitcher serving as the fifth starter—Stroman’s absence will not go unnoticed. If he can make it back to the mound quickly, it would be a big win for the Mets. If he misses half or more of the season with the injury, though, it the drop-off from him to the rest of the rotation is significant and will make it tougher for the Mets to make the playoffs—even with the new 16-team format.