Image via Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star (@markzwol)
There are days when, as fans of the Blue Jays, I think we all probably have those pangs of doubt about Marcus Stroman’s inexperience as he gets set to step into the shoes of David Price at the front of this club’s rotation. I have them, for sure. And then I have days like today, where Stroman can do absolutely no wrong.
He is a damn delight, we’re so lucky to have him, and we’ve only seen 24 big league starts from him so far!
First and foremost, there’s what he can do on the field — which today was more changing his pace to mess with hitters’ timing, inducing ground balls, adding a slight body twist before he sets to avoid tipping his pitches, efficiently going beyond his scheduled four innings (he pitched 4.2), and toying with a lineup featuring at least a few big leaguers by mixing up his ridiculous multi-pitch arsenal. He looked like he was in mid-season form and it was real nails, I tell you what.
And that wasn’t even the most awesome part of his day, if you ask me.
Afterwards, as you see above, Marcus met with the media wearing a “Joey Flippin’ Bats” shirt, supporting his teammate after ol’ Foie Gras Gossage’s clown show yesterday, and he said that he’d been in touch with Bryce Harper (who yesterday, before Gossage made himself a living breathing straw man, as Barry Petchesky of Deadspin perfectly put it, railed about the exact kind of fusty fun-policing attitude that harms the game by sapping it of so much drama and flair that’s natural to it).
The Millenials are taking over, and I say good for ‘em! Er… us? Er… whoever!
David Price, who you may recall from the time he briefly pitched for a non-garbage team, got into the debate too, suggesting to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that ballplayers can express themselves and get more young eyes on the game with things like their footwear — something Stroman, who announced last month that he’s now a Jordan-sponsored athlete — or with relaxed rules on what can appear on gloves, etc. Sure! Do it! (Uh… just do it?)
Fittingly, this is all happening on MLB’s #SnapchatDay, and of course they were sure to make Stroman a part of that as well.
— MLB (@MLB) March 11, 2016
Oh, and hey! Some other guys got into the action today, as well. Drew Storen looked terrific. Brett Cecil looked fine. Roberto Osuna was mentioned by the broadcast crew — between horse laughs and Ezekierrrrle Calllrrrghrrghhhhs — as trying something similar to Stroman, with respect to changing his pace to keep hitters off balance. Joe Biagini flashed some heat (according to the stadium gun, which we were assured was accurate, though I don’t know), but also gave up a solo shot to some scrub I can’t remember. And Pete Walker got praise for being particularly vigilant so far this year about making sure his pitchers aren’t tipping their pitches, which with the amount of video available these days, really makes sense (and I think Price’s playoff performance would probably agree *COUGH*).
Things are getting a bit more serious by the day, in other words, and Gregor Chisholm tells us at BlueJays.com that the Jays are going to start making cuts soon — though not for any of the guys mentioned above (even Biagini, who’ll get a long look as a Rule 5 guy with some non-zero potential to be this year’s Liam Hendriks) — as they look to start ramping up playing time for guys who are actually going to be on the big league team.
Speaking of big leaguers, how awesome is it that the Jays have so many guys who’ve been legit big league regulars as depth pieces? Matt Dominguez made a great play to rob a potential extra base hit early in today’s ballgame, and there’s Darwin Barney, Domonic Brown, Junior Lake, and a raft of pitchers who might be something, too. (Plus Tony Sanchez, who is an intriguing backup catcher option — especially if the game is being played in your heart — though never a regular in the majors).
Better question, why was it so hard to build this kind of depth before, Alex?
Not that I’m complaining about how that all turned out by the end. Nor am I complaining about how things are shaping up so far this year, either.
Hey, and the Jays won again, apparently!