An ace pitcher is meant to anchor a team’s pitching rotation, set the tone for the other starters, and lead by example. This is what the Chicago Cubs hoped for when signing MLBbro Marcus Stroman this past offseason to a 3-year, $71 million contract. Stroman is the seasoned veteran and workhorse, whom the Cubs felt confident could lead the charge as they looked to rebound from a disastrous 2021 season.
After a rough outing this past Wednesday, The Stro Show imploded surrendering 8 runs in 4.1 innings, and the Cubs cannot be excited about how his season has started.
Stroman doesn’t have a dominating fastball or explosive slider. He is finely tuned, with an array of pitches that keep hitters off balance.
Command issues have been one of Stroman’s biggest setbacks in the early season, and even he has addressed that he must improve. Particularly with his sinker, which has been one of his go-to pitches in his career, he is struggling to locate. He alluded to being out of sync with his mechanics and believes once he corrects those fundamental issues, he will be back on track.
“Nothing seems synonymous. Every pitch essentially feels like I’m doing something different mechanically,” Stroman said. “It kind of comes and goes. In stretches I feel great for an inning or a few batters and then kind of just lose it.”
Stroman signed with the Cubs to compete, as the ace of a playoff team. For that to happen, he is aware of the duties and expectations on his shoulders. Cubs’ fans anxiously await his return to elite form.
Chicago brought in Stroman to bring stability to a team that seemed unstable in 2021. Throughout his career, he has consistently been able to provide close to 200 innings a season and provide Quality starts. These are starts in which a pitcher goes six or more innings and allows no more than three runs. Stroman has pitched Quality starts in more than half his career starts.
Stroman even tied for the MLB lead in starts in the 2021 season with 33. He set career bests in ERA, WHIP (1.15), strikeout rate (21.6 percent) and walk rate (6.0 percent). With the Chicago Cubs in the middle of a transition, after trading the core of their 2016 World Series team, they had plans for Stroman to be the workhorse of the staff and take stress off the bullpen, which struggled mightily in 2021.
A former All-Star (2019) and Gold Glove Winner (2017), Stroman was the ideal candidate to help bridge the gap between rebuilding and competing.
Since making his major league debut in 2014, Stroman’s 58.2-percent ground ball rate ranks second- highest in that stretch, surpassed only by Clayton Kershaw (59.6).
Who will be lucky enough to nab this Ace? pic.twitter.com/W4xY7ipINa
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) November 10, 2021
No Early Return on Investment
Through his first three starts with the Cubs, he has yet to produce a Quality Start. In two of three outings, Stroman has failed to go at least five innings and given up five or more runs. After a promising first start, there has been significant regression in the last two.
Stroman is 0-2, with an ERA of 8.78. While Stroman’s elite defense is still a factor, the Cubs will need more than great glove work to have any shot at success this year.
All things considered; the Cubs should remain confident in their anointed ace. His track record over his eight-year career speaks for itself. While Stro Show’s performances don’t always translate into wins (He’s only won double-digits three times, with a high of 13 wins in 2017), he usually gives his team a chance to win.
The Cubs have gotten off to a middling start but there is plenty of baseball left for Stroman to regain his form, lead the pitching rotation and the team to success.