Straight from my basement bunker to yours, our first “Corona” post (as a philosopher once said: “You can have any virus you want… as long as it’s a Corona.”) is here! And we’re talking about… Marcus Stroman‘s strikeout rate? Well, yeah. As we enter this elongated (heh) period of nothing going on, what better way to proceed than focusing even more on information we already have. And what does that exactly mean in this context? Well, in terms of Marcus Stroman, there seems to be consensus that he might be alright this upcoming season (currently Razzball ranks him just above Julio Urias as the 43rd overall pitcher as of this writing, and is generally in the top-100 no matter which platform you choose). Whether you consider him a sleeper, a buy-low, or a player with expanded potential (why not all three!), this post will act as confirmation bias. Yes, I only offer the best bias. For those who are a bit more bullish (as the stock market shows, you should never go bear), this post is made for you. Think of it this way: Everyone knows Stroman did better the second-half. What this post presupposes is… maybe it can continue?

“Stroman’s K/9 went from 7.0 to 8.8 from the 1st half to the 2nd half and had a 3.28 ERA with a miserable BABIP (.332). Of course, he’s prone to some BABIP bad luck and iffy defense because he has a top five ground ball rate in the majors. His Ks only on the Mets were 9, recording 60 Ks in 59 2/3 IP. If Stroman holds these improvements to his K rates, and he’s gonna go from a ‘just okay’ fantasy number four to a number two, bordering on an ace. Dare I call him, Black Greinke.” – Grey.

I don’t quote Grey just to read what’s right, I also quote Grey so I can read his sweet nothings in my own voice. Look, it’s not sexual if you do it in your own voice! But why is Grey right? Because he always is? That’s it folks, we’re done here, let’s wrap it up.

Diving into the numbers, there’s a bit more to the story of Stroman just changing teams and magically improving his strikeout rate. And that story is the magic. Check out his first half pitches and how they faired in terms of ground ball rate and swinging strike rate:

Type % GB% SwStr%
Fastball (2-Seam) 37 69.9 5.9
Slider 34 48.5 15.7
Cutter 20 50.8 8.6
Changeup 5 57.1 9.6

As you can see, for the first half of the season, his fastball, slider, and cutter were used the most, and in that order. By far, his slider gained the most swinging strikes, with his fastball keeping the ball in the dirt at a strong clip. And now let’s take a look at the same table, but for the second half of the season and see what changed (spoiler alert!: bold…):

Type % GB% SwStr%
Fastball (2-Seam) 36 53.5 4.8
Slider 29 42.9 12.7
Cutter 27 51.9 16.7
Changeup 5 25.0 11.8

Interestingly enough, his fastball GB% lowered substantially, but was still generating swinging strikes near the same clip. The biggest change that sticks out is his cutter, both in terms of usage and effectiveness.

While this change looks to have started before switching to the NL, there’s obviously a strong case to be made here that whether through coaching, results, or both, Marcus Stroman utilized his cutter more, and with strong results. And while the potentially porous Mets defense might affect Stroman (his hit rate went from 8.5 to 9.8, with his BABIP rising .293 to .337 after the trade) most of his direct value is from an above average K/9 and a now three-season improvement with his HR/FB rate (from 17.8% in 2017, 13.6% in 2018, and just 12.6% last season).

I actually see him more as a Black Keuchel than a Black Grienke, I think we both agree that any follow sentence will probably be more racist. Regardless, there are a lot of reasons to buy-in on Stroman, and now there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that those reasons are real.

 

 

Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.

 
  1. Lower the Jolly Roger says:
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    Hey Jay! Good stuff! Always look forward.. gotta 12 team dynasty draft tomorrow.. 5×5 roto.. keep 10 + 10 farm… I have 1st pick… my 2 year rebuild is over… will gather some pieces along the way while competing … anyways here’s the team:

    Flaherty
    K Marte
    Yordan
    Alonso
    Robles
    Kingery
    Laureano
    Abreu
    J Urias
    Lamet
    Montas
    ————
    Robert
    Royce
    Vaughn
    Downs
    Bleday
    Puk
    Trammel
    Brujan
    Larnach
    Valera

    Anyways… I’m on the clock… going back & forth between Schwarber, Moustakas, Lourdes …. Whatya think!?? Thank you as always

  2. Trust the Process says:
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    Hey Jay! 1st overall pick in a 12 team dynasty tomorrow… 5×5 roto …. going back & forth on Schwarber, Moustakas, Lourdes…
    Help! Haha … Appreciate all the work … Always good stuff..

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      Tough one! I might go Schwarber there, but Lourdes… ugh. Probably Lourdes, but love all three.

      • 183414 says:
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        Depends on need. Moustakas gives you 2b/3b cover. Like/ love all 3.

  3. coleseph says:
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    Hey Jay, I got shares of Stroman this year too based on Greys rankings. Are you at all worried he seemed to get hit harder once he got to the Mets even though the ks went up? Not that it’s a big deal at the low price he’s going for

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      Yeah, it’s a great q. I didn’t focus on that aspect here, even though it’s present in the data. My reasoning is that while it wasn’t just noise, I believed it was a direct corollary with being more aggressive with his fastball to setup the cutter, so therefore something we should be completely fine with. Thinking of it, maybe I should have delved in a bit more…

      • coleseph says:
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        Yeah I could see it as a byproduct of a new approach and coaching. I’m not concerned as long as the ks are there

  4. Tweak says:
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    Hi Jay. Great call on Stroman here. He’s been my absolute favorite MLB pitcher to watch since he came up. I love the way that he mixes pitches and screws with batters’ timing by altering his pitch timing and movement on the mound. Fangraphs did a piece on it with videos a while back and I was hooked.

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      Me too!

      I first drafted him about five years ago in a deep keeper league, when he was just a future RP that could throw 100.

      The journey has been crazy, but I’m a big believer.

  5. 183414 says:
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    Love any 5’9” starter !!! Didn’t Stroman go to Duke ? If so, my favorite Dukie ever.

    • KrazyIvan says:
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      Those were some awesome days of North Carolina baseball. Duke had Stroman, NC State had Trea Turner and Carlos Rodin. UNC Chapel Hill were always solid.
      Stroman always stoke the show when it was his time up.

      • 183414 says:
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        Should say my only Duke player I ever liked. haha

        • Jolt In Flow says:
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          I’m an Oregon Ducks fan. I wish I paid more attention to ACC baseball. Since Pac-12 baseball is so solid, I never have. Plus ACC just doesn’t seem to go with baseball. Like dipping celery in cake icing. I guess you can do it, but the taste would be alien.

          Not that I’ve had alien. Not even sure there are any. But if there are, I figure that’s how they’d taste.

  6. Jolt In Flow says:
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    JAY! I needed this article yesterday. Could have used it in a draft last night. So close.

    Ah well, still have a few drafts. Thanks for the write-up.

    Keep the reports coming.

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