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Stroman set 'to dominate, wherever that may be'

@baseballexis
July 24, 2019

TORONTO -- If Marcus Stroman was bidding farewell to the Blue Jays and the Toronto faithful on Wednesday, he did so with the grandest of gestures. Toronto’s 28-year-old right-hander has been at the forefront of speculation amid this season’s trade rumour mill, and with the Trade Deadline just seven days

TORONTO -- If Marcus Stroman was bidding farewell to the Blue Jays and the Toronto faithful on Wednesday, he did so with the grandest of gestures.

Toronto’s 28-year-old right-hander has been at the forefront of speculation amid this season’s trade rumour mill, and with the Trade Deadline just seven days away on July 31, Stroman’s stellar seven-inning outing in a 4-0 loss to Cleveland would be his last for the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre if he were dealt.

“I realized that it could have possibly been my last home start, so [I] definitely wanted to show the crowd some love,” Stroman said. “Because the last seven years that I’ve been a Blue Jay, it’s been unbelievable.”

Box score

The 25,385 fans in attendance made their appreciation for the team’s most consistent hurler evident, offering Stroman a standing ovation when he walked off the mound after the top of the seventh frame with 100 pitches under his belt. The homegrown talent -- in his eighth season in the organization -- allowed one run on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

As he left the field, he shared a message with the crowd.

“I said, ‘This is my house,’ because it is,” Stroman said. “I just thought it could be my last outing here. I’ve always been emotional. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good tenure as a Blue Jay. Hopefully, this will be my third [season] throwing 200 innings or more.

“I feel like I’ve pitched pretty well in the best division in baseball. There’s been no willingness from the front office to sign me, so I’ve just come to terms with it, and I’m ready to dominate, wherever that may be, absolutely dominate.”

Stroman unleashed all of his weapons on the Indians in his 21st start of the year for Toronto, relying on an impressive slider throughout the game. He leaned on the pitch, especially the first time through the order, while mixing in the rest of his extensive repertoire.

“My stuff’s really good right now,” Stroman said. “I feel like I’ve always been a pitcher who’s pitched predominantly off of his fastball, but I can pitch like it’s tailored to now. I can go out there and throw sliders and get swingovers and get my punchies way up. I’ve always tried to pitch deep into games.

“I have multiple ways I can attack hitters … so it just depends start to start. If I want to go out there and try to strike guys out or try to go deep into games, I feel like I have a game plan for both.”

The team’s lone All-Star entered Wednesday’s outing ranked sixth among American League hurlers with a 3.06 ERA, a mark that dropped to 2.96 in the start. He also led the circuit with a 57.4 ground-ball percentage, and ranked first in the Majors with the lowest sweet-spot rate (percentage of batted balls hit with launch angle of 8-32 degrees) allowed this year. Stroman added to both those totals in the contest.

Lowest sweet-spot rate allowed, 2019: Minimum 200 batted balls (129 pitchers)

1) Marcus Stroman: 24.0%
2) Ross Stripling (LAD): 24.5%
3) Wade Miley (HOU): 24.6%
4) Luis Castillo (CIN): 25.6%
5) Mike Soroka (ATL): 26.7%

“He did the same thing he’s been doing his last five starts after the break, outstanding,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “This guy’s a good pitcher. Like I always say, every time he takes the mound, we have a chance to win a game. And he did the same thing today. He gave up one run, that was it. He gave us a chance. He knows how to pitch.”

Unfortunately for Stroman, Toronto’s lineup couldn’t turn its own appreciation for his efforts into run support, being held to just one hit -- an Eric Sogard double -- over nine innings against Cleveland starter Shane Bieber. The 24-year-old right-hander walked one and struck out 10.

“That’s good pitching,” Montoyo said. “It wasn’t our hitters. They’re good. That guy was good today. He kept us off-balance and he’s got good stuff. You’ve got to give him credit. He’s really good.”

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.