Marcus Stroman's First Year with the Chicago Cubs: A Success

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Marcus Stroman’s First Year with the Chicago Cubs: A Success

Chicago Cubs

As he has throughout the second half of the season, Marcus Stroman gave the Chicago Cubs a great outing yesterday against the Cincinnati Reds, closing down the home slate on the schedule with a win.

That’s a mighty soft lineup right now, yes, but Stroman was nevertheless exceptional. Not only did Stroman make it through 6.0 scoreless innings on just 81 pitches, he still managed to strike out seven. He allowed five hits, two walks, posted a fantastic 37% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) rate, and got a ridiculous 11 groundouts against ZERO air outs. Dude was just really good.

Since returning from the shoulder injury in July, Stroman posted a 2.56 ERA over 16 starts and 91.1 innings. Over that time period, Stroman’s ERA was 21st lowest in baseball among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched (fun fact: Justin Steele is at the very top, at 1.46).

At the end of the year, Stroman’s full-season numbers weren’t too shabby either. The shoulder issue and his COVID absence kept the innings down below his career norms, but the 3.50 ERA was actually a touch better than his career average. The 3.76 FIP was just about career average. The peripherals were almost spot on. Basically, Stroman was Stroman this year for the Cubs. You would have hoped for more innings on a team that was actually headed to the postseason, but if your purpose here is to look forward to 2023, I think Stroman did plenty to leave you confidence about how he can help the team next year.

That’s how Stroman sees it, too.

“I’m extremely thankful to be a Chicago Cub,” Stroman said after his season finale, per Cubs.com. “I can’t wait to continue to go out there and perform for this fan base …. I can’t wait for next year.”

Stroman also noted the way he thinks about a season like this, with its personal challenges.

“I thought I did a really good job of bouncing back from a rough start,” Stroman said of the beginning of his season. “A lot of people can kind of cash it in mentally, physically, emotionally. I had close to a 6.00 ERA after my first few starts. It’s just a product of all the work that goes into it.

“I’m someone who never gives up regardless of if I’ve had 10 bad starts or 10 great ones. I’m truly adapting and changing and working in-between each and every start. I’m just thankful for how it all played out.”

That process is what Stroman will carry with him into the offseason in preparation for 2023, when he will be expected to again stabilize the Cubs’ rotation, regardless of what other moves they make. Ever a perfectionist and tinkerer, to say nothing of his physical fitness, I don’t know that you have any particular concerns at the moment about a physically-driven performance decline as Stroman heads into his age 32 season. He should be able to be Stroman again.

“Stroman’s been great,” Cubs manager David Ross said, per Cubs.com. “I’d watched him pitch from afar. Being able to sign him this offseason and watch him go about his work, I mean, he’s all in about everything. The details. He takes care of his body. He invests in his teammates.

“He invests in the group here, the coaching staff. He’s a worker. He’s a listener, he’s pushing himself to get better. He’s never satisfied. He wants to be great — not just good. He wants to be great. And he’s shown that in the way he’s going about his business every day.”

All in all, within the context of the TEAM’s overall disappointing results, it was a successful first season in Chicago for Stroman. With a similar performance in 2023, albeit with more innings, we’ll probably be talking at this time next year about the opt-out in Stroman’s contract (he can opt out of the would-be $21 million 2024 season in his deal). That would be a good problem to have.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.