TORONTO -- If rebounds were recorded on the diamond, Marcus Stroman would be atop the leaderboard.
After battling through last season, the 28-year-old right-hander has led the Blue Jays’ rotation in every category and earned a place among baseball’s best at the 2019 All-Star Game.
“It’s amazing,” Stroman said. “Definitely one of the bright spots of my career. Just to come from where I came from last year, having probably the worst year I’ve had, battling injuries, I made it such a premium in the offseason to do everything I could to get back.
“It’s just a testament to everybody around me, my family, my friends, we all operate as one unit. It’s an awesome time for all of us, the staff here. I can’t thank enough people.”
This season, the New York native is the owner of a 3.18 ERA over 18 starts and 104 2/3 innings, with 32 walks and 81 strikeouts. He is on pace to surpass an impressive 2017 season in which he finished eighth in Cy Young Award voting. His comeback follows a 5.54 ERA over 19 starts and 102 1/3 total innings last year.
“I wasn’t happy with last year,” Stroman said. “I knew going out there how much I had battled the entire year. I knew I wasn’t at 100 percent. I knew people were going to assume that was the Marcus Stroman going forward. That bothered me a lot. Angered me. I took that into the weight room and into my offseason.
“I knew what I had to do to get right and I did, and I’m just looking forward to using this as momentum and continue to deal the rest of the year and my future.”
This season, Stroman has provided some much-needed consistency to the rotation in Toronto.
“Every time he pitches, we’ve got a chance to win,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “And early on when he was pitching, he didn’t have any run support from us, and he kept us in every game. He’s been an All-Star. He’s actually an All-Star.”
Stroman got the news from his manager ahead of Sunday’s game against the Royals that he was going to be joining the American League roster at Progressive Field, and couldn’t have been more proud.
“I don’t search for personal accolades, I really don’t,” Stroman said. “I do everything in my power to just focus on everything I can control and then let everything take acre of itself. When Charlie called me into the office before the game, I kind of had a hunch because I haven’t been called into the office all year. … Definitely brought tears to my eyes when he first told me.”
The hurler was excited to share the excitement with those closest to him, who he believes were a huge factor in helping him accomplish the feat.
“I called everyone in my family, just right before the game,” Stroman said. “My dad, obviously, my mom. I don’t have a big family. Between my family and my friends, it’s probably less than 10 of us, a small circle that I keep close. It’s a victory for all of us. … I can’t take credit for this. It’s a product of everyone around me and everyone who’s helped me.”
Among AL leaders, Stroman is atop the leaderboard in groundouts, ranks ninth in ERA and in opposition slugging percentage, and the righty is 10th in innings pitched, and the latter number is something he is particularly proud of.
“That’s something I always look at,” he said. “I’m halfway to where I want to be. I’m around 100 innings. My goal is to always be at 200 innings by the end of the year. I truly feel like if you pitch deep into games, everything else takes care of itself. I’m not someone who goes out there and tries to strike out the world. I want to pitch deep into games and keep my team in it as long as I can.”
After one more start with the Blue Jays ahead of the All-Star break, Stroman is looking forward to heading to Cleveland to mingle among baseball’s finest.
“It’s the best players in the game,” he said. “I’ve been around a lot of those guys at different times of my career. It’s just an awesome time. You get to pick the minds of the greatest players in the game. Just to be around that level of talent [is exciting]. Honestly, just try to take it all in.”