Making sense of the Marcus Stroman situation

Marcus Stroman demands your attention. (USATSI)
Marcus Stroman demands your attention. (USATSI)

Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman finally got his opportunity. After a short stint in the major-league bullpen, Stroman was sent back to the minors in order to get stretched out as a starter again. That didn't last long, as the club called up Stroman for a "spot-start" Saturday. The club has been quiet about Stroman's role moving forward, however, making it tough for Fantasy owners to gauge his value.

It's not really a question of talent. Stroman may not have rated all that high on most prospect lists coming into the season, but that was more a question about his role. Stroman has been successful as a starter, but is listed as 5' 9'', which is small by starter standards. There are still some analysts who believe his height makes him better suited for the bullpen. Still, the production in the minors has been solid thus far, and there's no reason to think he can't hold up under a starter's workload just yet. 

The bigger issue is whether he's truly here to stay. The Blue Jays have been mum on the true reasons behind Stroman's callup. The club has said they want to give pitcher Drew Hutchison a few extra days of rest, which seems reasonable, but Hutchison also showed some troubling signs in recent starts. His velocity has steadily declined from 93.96 mph May 16, to 91.70 mph his last time out. That's not to imply he's dealing with an underlying injury, but it doesn't help considering the team has been secretive and Hutchison's last start was rough.

On top of that, Hutchison is coming off Tommy John surgery, so there was always a chance the team would limit his innings. The Blue Jays might not do it this early in the season, but it's a long-term concern if Hutchison is still in the rotation by August. 

If it takes that long, though, Stroman isn't going to provide immediate Fantasy impact. Thankfully, the Blue Jays have a few pitchers who can be replaced in the rotation. Liam Hendriks seems the most likely to go despite a solid 2.31 ERA. His peripherals suggest he's no where near that good, and probably wouldn't have been called up if Stroman hadn't been used out of the bullpen for a while. Though the team has publicly championed J.A. Happ, he doesn't have any upside. Stroman would seem to be a better player than either of those guys, though it's unclear whether the Blue Jays will go that route. 

Considering the possible upside Stroman can provide, he would be pretty close to a must-add even in shallow leagues if he earned a rotation spot. Stroman has more potential than most of the waiver-wire fodder currently available in most leagues. He's certainly worth taking a chance on over a steady, low-upside veteran.

Based on how he's pitched Saturday,* it's going to be tough for the team to demote Stroman again. If Fantasy owners can afford to make the speculative pickup now, that's probably the smart move. If it's a temporary spot-start, you lose nothing by cutting him Sunday. The potential here is strong, and the Blue Jays could use another strong starter. If he's out there in your league right now, go get him.

*He is through six innings at the time this article was posted.

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