Stroman was one of most popular Blue Jays

July 29th, 2019

TORONTO -- ’s time with the Blue Jays has come to an end.

As the 28-year-old right-hander heads to join the Mets after being traded on Sunday in exchange for two prospects, he leaves Toronto as one of the organization’s longest-tenured players and a favourite of fans across an entire country.

Stroman shared a mutual affection for all those who cheered him on through his six years in the Majors with the Blue Jays and eight seasons with the franchise, as fans across Canada watched him transform from a first-round pick out of Duke University in 2012 into the statistical leader among American League giants that he has become.

“I’m extremely thankful for the fans from coast to coast in Canada,” Stroman said on Wednesday. “It’s been unbelievable, since 2012 [when] I was drafted. I came in here not knowing what I was getting into and kind of tiptoeing around being a Blue Jay, and I’ve loved every second of it.

“It’s definitely huge thanks to the fans from across the entire country, whether it be us playing in Seattle, us playing in Cleveland, us playing in Minnesota, it’s unbelievable. I’m very thankful that I’ve been a Blue Jay for this long, and it was a perfect place to start my career.”

This year, which saw him start 21 games for Toronto, Stroman has enjoyed the best season of his career, posting a 2.96 ERA over 124 2/3 innings as the Blue Jays' most consistent pitcher. But the highlights of his career in Toronto will always be the trips his squad made to the postseason, something the city had not seen in more than two decades.

“[There have been] so many different moments,” he said. “Obviously ’15 and ’16 were whirlwind years, and those are the moments that will always hit home.

“Obviously, I pitched Game 5 [of the ALDS in 2015] and I pitched the Wild Card Game [in 2016], [with Jose] Bautista’s homer and Eddie [Encarnacion]’s homer, so those are the two scenes that will always have a lasting effect on my memory for sure -- just how loud it was in those moments and how crazy the fans were. I’ll definitely always be thankful for those times.”

Stroman has utilized an extensive repertoire to help him to the third-best ERA in the AL this season, also with the third-lowest home ERA in franchise history at 3.42, behind only Doyle Alexander (3.06) and Hall of Famer Roy Halladay (3.23). He also believes he has more in the tank that will soon be on display on the mound.

“I have a bunch of weapons that I’ll be debuting, whether it be here or with another team,” Stroman said after his start on Wednesday against the Indians. “I have a really good feel for pitching, I feel like I’ve always had. I can spin the ball, I feel like I’m able to take things that guys tell me and put it into my game, not over a week or month but literally the next day. I have a lot of weapons. I’m excited for the future.”

Stroman’s future now lies in New York, where he looks forward to what he believes will continue an even stronger finish to the season than the impressive pitching he’s already displayed.

“I feel great,” he said. “I’m just excited [about] how good I feel. I feel like I’ve always been a second-half pitcher, and my work ethic from this past offseason is really starting to show. I’m going to have a pretty special second half. My stuff is beyond where I thought it’d be at.”

In front of 25,385 fans at Rogers Centre on Wednesday, Stroman left his final start in a Blue Jays uniform to a standing ovation and shared one last message with the crowd as he departed.

“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.”