Dominant Stroman showing his 'best version'

April 19th, 2021

It was starting pitching that carried the Mets to a 2-1 win and series victory over the Rockies on Sunday. , in his third start of the season, pitched six scoreless innings before giving up his first run at Coors Field since June 2019, when he was still pitching for the Blue Jays.

“This is the best version of him that I’ve seen,” said manager Luis Rojas. “I mean, when he came in he was very impressive. … We got to know the stuff and know how impressive he was. But this year is the best version. I saw him in '19. I saw him in Spring Training last year. Right now, he’s throwing the ball the best I’ve seen him in three years that we’ve known each other.”

After three starts, Stroman’s ERA (0.90) is the fifth lowest in the league. The Mets are also 3-0 in his starts this season.

Michael Conforto said having a guy like Stroman is great for team production.

“Just his attitude, the ultimate confidence in himself and I think that can be contagious sometimes,” said the outfielder.

After walking Dom Nuñez in the top of the third inning, Stroman retired 12 straight batters before Trevor Story connected for a seventh-inning double. In all, Stroman allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three in his first eight-inning start since April 19, 2019.

He joins Logan Verrett as the only pitchers in franchise history to allow one or fewer earned runs in a start of at least eight innings at Coors Field.

Stroman said he isn’t doing anything different to prepare for the hitter-friendly park.

“I think my stuff plays well here,'' said Stroman. “I don’t change my game plan, to be honest with you. I think because I throw an elite sinker, I think I do a good job to keep the ball on the ground no matter what park I go to."

Stroman had a 15-inning scoreless streak at Coors Field snapped when Charlie Blackmon delivered a one-out RBI single to pull the Rockies to within one in the seventh. That scoreless streak is tied for the third longest by a visiting pitcher at Coors Field. Only Tyler Walker (16 2/3 innings) and Jair Jurrjens (15 2/3) had longer ones.

“I mean, you guys saw the pitch count,” said Rojas. “He had like 40-some pitches in the fifth. That’s what he is going to do when he establishes. Guys are going to swing, guys are going to put balls in play, and they are going to be on the ground. The defense is on their toes and we are going to be able to make plays. I think that’s what happened early to let him go the eight innings.”

Stroman, who finished with 90 pitches over eight innings, said he works to “give the bullpen a break and keep my team in a position to win.”

The Mets improved to 4-0 in one-run games this season. They gave Stroman an early lead in the second inning, which opened with a 110.4-mph single by Pete Alonso. A double by Conforto and an RBI groundout by Jeff McNeil scored the first run off Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela. The Mets took advantage of a fielding error by the Rockies' C.J. Cron to extend the fourth inning for J.D. Davis, who followed with an RBI single.

Stroman and the offense set the Mets up for their seventh win of the season, but it was the defense that added the final level of excitement to the game. Catcher James McCann caught Story stealing, making a perfect throw to Francisco Lindor at second to record the final out of the game.

“That was on the money,” Rojas said. “He’s showing things that he can do back there. Not only receiving and calling the game, but also controlling the running game by throwing to the bases like that. To come through with big plays shows the guys are staying prepared.”