Always remember that in many instances — pitching, for example — quality trumps quantity. Justin Dunn’s pitching performance for the Seattle Mariners this season is a prime example of such an instance.
With his victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, Dunn extended his American League-leading streak of 15 straight starts of allowing three or fewer runs.
Pitching is just different in 2021. Black in the day, pitchers were expected to throw longer into games than we see now. Rarely do we see a complete game thrown, let alone a starter even reach the seven or eight-inning mark.
With managers having the option of going to four or more guys in their bullpen who can throw 95 mph and above with dirty movement, the role of the starting pitcher now is to keep his team in a position to win, rather than go deep into games.
Throughout this season, and even extending into last, Dunn has been one of the best in baseball at getting this done.
Since August 23, 2020, Dunn has been stingy, allowing three or fewer runs in his last 15 starts. Particularly, he has been heating up over his last three starts, and this could be the best stretch of his young career.
Dunn, from Queens New York, has never been the biggest, hardest-throwing, or most intimidating pitcher, so he’d dealt with people doubting him and knocking him for not measuring up to the metrics. Those funny numbers that, falsely determine who has the goods, while overlooking things such as natural talent and heart.
In his last start this past weekend, Dunn went 5.2 innings, striking out eight and allowing one run in a 3-2 victory aided by MLBbro shortstop J.P. Crawford’s second home run of the season. Dunn’s stat line was very similar just two starts ago when he struck out a career-high nine in a loss to the Detroit Tigers. In his last three games, Dunn has an ERA of 2.20 and a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.92.
Dunn’s beginning to find his All-Star stride on the mound. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2016 draft after posting a 2.06 ERA in his junior season at Boston College.
Going into the 2018 season, Dunn was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Mets farm system.
Later that year, he was involved in a trade that sent him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for one of the best second baseman of our generation in Robinson Cano (who was aging at the time) and closer Edwin Diaz. Justin made his MLB debut on September 12, 2019, against the Cincinnati Reds.
Dunn recorded a 4.34 ERA in 10 starts during the Covid l9-shortened 2020 season.
The kid they used to count out is currently putting together a quality resume for 2021. He has a 3.18 ERA and has struck out 45 batters this year.
Opponents have not been able to make solid contact on him either. His .168 batting average against is good for the second-lowest in the American League behind the White Sox’s Carlos Rodon.
Dunn and MLBbro rotation partner Justus Sheffield are one of two rotations in baseball that feature two black starters. The other rotation resides in Flushing, Queens and consists of Black Knights Marcus Stroman and Taijun Walker.
Sheffield got the job done for the Mariners Friday night as he was awarded the win after going five innings allowing just two runs on six hits.
Dunn’s current streak of 15 straight starts, allowing three or fewer runs is good for the fourth-longest such streak in Mariners’ history trailing Seattle legend Felix Hernandez, Roenis Elías and Erik Bedard.
Dunn’s next start is Friday in Los Angeles as he and High Five member Kyle Lewis take on Justin Upton and the Angels.
He’s also an anomaly. At 5 feet 7 inches tall, he doesn’t strike an imposing form when on the mound. Since 2000, he’s one of only six pitchers under 5’10” to even make a start in Major League Baseball.
But every time he takes the ball, you can’t tell him he’s not the biggest, baddest, man in the stadium.
He has no fear; not of opposing lineups, and not of big moments. And right now, he’s entering one of the biggest moments of his career.
The Mets’ pitching staff has been hit hard by injury. Jacob deGrom just returned from the injured list, but New York is currently without fellow Black Aace Taijuan Walker, and Carlos Carrasco, and Jordan Yamamoto. The latest depressing news surrounds Noah Syndergaard, who will be shut down for another six weeks due to right elbow inflammation.
Through all of it, Stroman has taken the hill every fifth day.
Thursday afternoon he pitched six scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up only three hits as New York scratched out a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Stro picked up his team-leading fourth victory while dropping his earned run average to 2.47.
“I feel like I’ve always taken pride in taking the ball every fifth day and putting my team in a position to win,” he said after the game. “Since we have a lot of the guys on the DL, I just feel like it puts a little more pressure on the guys who are in the rotation to carry their load while those guys are out.”
If deGrom is the unquestioned ace of the Mets’ rotation, Stroman is its glue.
Stroman’s allowed more than two earned runs in only two starts so far, and his 58.1 innings pitched are 13 more than anyone else on the roster.
“We’ve had some absences in our starting rotation, and this guy’s given us length,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas. “For me, what he’s done repeatedly, is that he’s helped our bullpen stay fresh…I think you have to give a lot of credit to him because he’s worked really hard, since last year when he didn’t pitch. He’s worked really hard to get into this position.”
The work is paying off for Stroman and the Mets, who continue to cling to first place in the National League East even with one of the worst offenses in baseball. Until the Mets’ offense can find some consistency and its pitching staff is once again whole, Marcus Stroman can be counted on to hold it down.
If you doubt him, just ask him. He’ll tell you.
“I don’t beg cause cause I’m not a begonia;
I dress warm so that I won’t catch pneumonia;
My rhymes are stronger than ammonia;
I’m a diamond, you’re a cubic zirconia.”
— MC Smooth B, Hip Hip Junkies
Marcus Stroman has always known he was a star. The rest of baseball is finally coming to that realization as well.
Marcus Stroman continued his exceptional pitching on Friday night, but his golden arm was offset by an anemic Mets offense that had gone 20 straight innings without scoring a run before pushing one across the plate in the 6th inning to add some drama to what was an otherwise lifeless game against a decimated Phillies team
A bad night for the Mets as they fall 2-1 in Philly.
Marcus Stroman leaves after 6 with a tight hamstring while offense was 1 for 14 with RISP.
Stroman was pulled after throwing just 64 pitches and trailing 2-1. In addition to his lit pitching, Stroman tried his best to boost a sagging Mets offense by delivering one of the Mets’ three hits for the game, a double down the line.
The Mets eventually scored in the sixth inning and Stroman was pulled from the game with a line of 5 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs and eight K’s. It was another ace-type outing from Stroman who lowered his ERA to 1.86
Look at that filth Stroman was dealing on Friday night. He had dudes looking confused, like when your Grandad tries to decipher Kodak Black lyrics.
Stroman came into the year basically guaranteeing one of the best seasons of his career and he hasn’t disappointed. The diminutive diamond-miner has been in Ebenezer Scrooge on the mound. Friday was no different, as the Long Island product was bringing the Phillies the ruckus, which is why SNY analyst Ron Darling was baffled when Mets manager Luis Rojas took Stro out of the game.
Ron Darling immediately assumed something was wrong because Stroman was rolling and “unless he was hurt it wouldn’t make sense to take him out, especially as well as he pitched,” Darling said. He had electric stuff.”
Stroman left due to a tight hamstring according to sources close to the team