Stroman announced Saturday that he will play for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The extra work before spring training may do Stroman some good. After missing most of 2015 recovering from ACL surgery, the righty struggled to knock off the rust early in 2016. Prior to the All-Star break, he posted a 4.89 ERA while managing 6.4 K/9 over 18 starts. Following the Midsummer Classic, Stroman dished up a 3.68 ERA and an 8.5 K/9. The WBC will give the 25-year-old an opportunity to enter 2017 well-oiled and ready to go.
Stroman will start Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday against the Indians, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet reports. Although he finished the regular season with a 4.37 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, Stroman was much more dialed in during Toronto's Wild Card Game against the Orioles. In said game, he allowed just two runs across six innings.
Stroman was named the starting pitcher for Tuesday's Wild Card game against the Orioles, MLB Network Radio reports. There was some debate about whether Stroman or Francisco Liriano would get the ball for Toronto in the winner-take-all game Tuesday, but general manager Ross Atkins decided to go with the former. Atkins alluded that the decision was partially made due to certain matchups the Blue Jays hoped to exploit, Liriano's experience coming out of the bullpen, as well as the fact that Stroman was on the team since the beginning of the season. Although his 0-5 record in September didn't show it, the 25-year-old right-hander did have a solid finish to the season, posting a 3.41 ERA and 0.7 HR/9 in the final month of the season, although his career 5.27 ERA against Baltimore doesn't instill any extra confidence. Stroman will start opposite Chris Tillman to decide who will face the Rangers in the ALDS.
Stroman suffered his ninth loss of the season Sunday versus the Angels despite only allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks across six innings. He struck out three. Stroman worked out of a couple of jams without serious damage and allowed just one extra-base hit, but the typically potent Jays offense could not pick him up versus Alex Meyer. The right-hander has now rattled off five quality starts in his last seven tries and has lowered his ERA to 4.50. Toronto will need Stroman at his best when the postseason rolls around and he will have the opportunity to build on his recent success Saturday versus the Yankees.
Stroman (9-8) threw six innings of three-run ball Tuesday, giving up four hits and four walks while striking out four and earning the loss against the Rays. Stroman struggled with his command Tuesday, throwing just 52 of 92 pitches for strikes and walking four. The four walks are the most yielded by Stroman since June 26. All of the damage against Stroman came in the fifth, as a double and a walk set up Alexei Ramirez's three-run homer to give the Rays a lead they would never relinquish. Stroman now has a 4.55 ERA and 1.30 WHIP on the year.