If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.
At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.
The best part about the Chef’s Table is that you get to watch the preparation of your food from start to finish. Seeing every intricate detail that goes into your dish while enjoying the company of family and friends. Well, that’s what I’m gonna give you here.
Each week I will profile a player based on increased street cred throughout the industry. Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.
Today’s Special: Marcus Stroman
Not everyone has to fit the prototype of their given position to be a successful professional athlete. Both Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have more Super Bowl rings than Dan Marino, who was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time despite being listed at or around 6’0”, which is far below the average height for an NFL quarterback. Allen Iverson was a league MVP and four time NBA scoring champ standing at 6’0”. Although baseball isn’t as bad with its demands on size, there are some who believe you have to be tall to be a starting pitcher. Apparently Marcus Stroman did not get that memo.
Standing at 5’9”, Stroman dazzled in his first big league start on Saturday pitching six strong innings allowing just one run on five hits and no walks while striking out six batters, proving that you don’t need height to be a successful starter. It is easy to hold a seven-run lead in the second inning, but he did not let the big gap on the scoreboard change the way he pitched, blowing his electric fastball and filthy slider leaving the Royals offense in awe. However, the Blue Jays have been very quiet in regards to how they plan on using Stroman moving forward.
In his first stint in the big leagues, the Blue Jays elected to use him out of the bullpen, which was a failed experiment. Through 6.1 innings out of the ‘pen, Stroman allowed nine runs on 13 hits and one walk fanning only four batter over that stretch, resulting in a 12.79 ERA and an eventual demotion. Once back in the minors it was the same old Stroman, maintaining his 11.36 K/9 while managing just 2.27 BB/9 through seven starts (35.2 IP). After being scratched from his scheduled start last Thursday with no injury reported, it was clear that the Blue Jays were ready to give him a chance, this time as an under-sized starter.
The original reason for Stroman’s most recent promotion was to give Drew Hutchison some extra time off in between his starts. Remember, Hutchinson is coming off of Tommy John surgery and has shows signs of regression over his last couple starts, including losing velocity on his fastball. The Blue Jays have not reported any new injuries as the reason for his most recent performances, but this is going to be an ongoing issue until he either winds up on the disabled list or pitches his way out of the starting rotation. Taking into consideration the recent success of J.A. Happ, he will likely remain in the mix, leaving Liam Hendriks as the odd man out in a best case scenario, with Stroman slotting in as the No. 5 starter.
It has never been a question of talent when evaluating the Blue Jays vertically challenged starter. He has great command of all his pitches, including his fastball which he throws at 94 MPH on average, and a nasty slider around 85 MPH. The change in speed between his primary pitches has kept both minor league and major league hitters guessing in 2014, including Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who was spotted mouthing “wow” after striking out on slider on Saturday. Not to mention he just doesn’t walk anyone. The damage done in his first stint in the big leagues all came via hits, allowing just one walk which is unlike what we normally encounter from young hurlers.
Whether the Blue Jays are going to come out and say it or not, it is hard for me to believe that Stroman will be back in the minor leagues this season. His performance on Saturday shows why he was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, taking less than two seasons to take his talents to the big show. So what if he is only 5’9”. The guy can straight deal and should get at least a few more chances to prove he is here for the long haul.
Considering his possible upside if given a permanent spot in the Blue Jays starting rotation, Stroman makes for an add even in the shallowest of fantasy leagues. As mentioned earlier, he doesn’t walk anybody (1 BB through 12.1 IP in majors) and has strong command of all his pitches, which will keep the opposition guessing. He’s young, I know, so there will be bumps in the road as the season progresses, but the good is going to outweigh the bad in the long run.
Despite a brilliant effort in his first big league start, Stroman isn’t getting the love he deserves in the fantasy world. Throughout the main service providers (ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS), Stroman is owned in less than 20 percent of leagues, most likely because the Blue Jays have been so hush-hush about their future plans regarding their backend starters. But that shouldn’t stop you from being speculative, especially if your starting pitching staff is barely staying afloat.
For now, Stroman is slated to take the hill against the Cardinals on Friday and if that start goes as well at his frist, the Blue Jays will have some serious decision making to do. Although it's hard to believe he is going to be the odd man out this time around.