TORONTO -- There are less than two weeks remaining in the Blue Jays' season, but before it comes to an end, Marcus Stroman has a couple items that need to be checked off his to-do list.
Stroman is within 8 2/3 innings of reaching 200 for the second consecutive year following a 5-2 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night. He also has a shot at posting the third-lowest ERA at home in Blue Jays franchise history. His ERA at Rogers Centre this season currently stands at 2.53 after seven innings of one-run ball against Kansas City.
The 26-year-old has one start remaining at home and another on the road before his 2017 is over. He finished Tuesday's outing with an overall ERA of 3.01, which also puts him one strong start away from becoming one of four American League starters with a chance to finish below 3.00.
"I think it's a combination of putting in a ton of work in the offseason, and in the season, focusing on my body and the training staff," Stroman said. "It's just a great combination, and I feel extremely strong. I feel like I can throw another [however] many innings. I feel great and look forward to my next two starts."
The only starters with better home ERAs in franchise history are Roger Clemens (1.52 in 1997), Pat Hentgen (2.05 in 1994) and Jimmy Key (2.36 in 1987). Stroman is just ahead of Roy Halladay (2.56 in 202).
Three of the names on that list are Cy Young Award winners, and Key is one of the most popular pitchers to wear a Blue Jays uniform. Stroman isn't in that class quite yet, as this year's AL Cy Young is expected to be a battle between Boston's Chris Sale and Cleveland's Corey Kluber, but he has been among the league's best throughout the season.
"That's a tribute to the fans, this country and how I feel every time I step out there," Stroman said of his success at Rogers Centre. "It's extremely fun. I feel that from the second I walk out of the dugout to warm up, I feel the presence of the crowd and I feel like I feed off of that."
There might be no one inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse who wants Stroman to reach 200 innings more than manager John Gibbons. Toronto's skipper spoke at length before the game about his desire for Stroman to reach that plateau, and it showed in his patience on Tuesday night.
In the seventh inning, Stroman put runners on the corners with nobody out. With Dominic Leone ready in the bullpen, that likely would have been the end any other Blue Jays starter's night, but Stroman was allowed to continue and it paid off. He got Mike Moustakas on a sacrifice fly and then induced a pair of groundouts to end the frame and escape with just one run allowed.
Stroman allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five on Tuesday. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his last five starts and has set a career high in wins with 12. He'll enter Spring Training in 2018 as the early favorite to be named the Opening Day starter and will once again lead the Blue Jays' rotation.
"I know it's important to him," Gibbons said of the 200-inning mark. "It's important to me, too, that he gets it. Guys out there who are close to certain things, and you want to see them get it."