Are Marcus Stroman's stellar pitching stats sustainable? | Mets Analysis and Predictions

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Danny Abriano
·4 min read
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Marcus Stroman Mets TREATED ART April 2021
Marcus Stroman Mets TREATED ART April 2021

On Sunday in Colorado, Marcus Stroman was as dominant as he's ever been since being traded to the Mets in 2019, stifling the Rockies for eight innings and lowering his ERA for the season to 0.90.

Except for a tiny blip in the seventh inning, Stroman was close to untouchable.

And what Stroman did on Sunday in Colorado was similar to what he did during his first two full starts of the season.

Before we dig into how Stroman is doing this and how much of it is sustainable, let's take a brief trip down memory lane...

After trading Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson for Stroman in the summer of 2019, the Mets were (unfairly) bashed after Stroman (understandably) opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

And Stroman, who was simply exercising a right many players exercised last season, still hasn't been forgiven by a swath of the Mets' fan base for something that shouldn't even need forgiveness.

But those who criticized the Mets' acquisition of Stroman and those who questioned his heart in 2020 are starting to look very foolish.

When Stroman accepted the Mets' one-year qualifying offer before the 2021 season, it flew under the radar a bit. But the presence of Stroman is not flying under the radar any longer.

HOW IS HE ATTACKING HITTERS AND WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE?

When Stroman pitched for the Mets in 2019, it seemed he was hunting strikeouts a bit more, and his 9.1 strikeouts per 9 rate in 59.2 IP that season after the trade was the highest of his career. His career K/9 is 7.3.

This season, Stroman is striking out just 5.0 per 9 -- a rate that figures to rise as the year goes on.

In the meantime, Stroman's success despite his lack of strikeouts doesn't mean he's getting lucky.

Apr 18, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (0) reacts at the end of the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (0) reacts at the end of the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Stroman's control (1.33 BB/9) has been impeccable and the best of his career, and he's been dotting the corners with regularity.

Meanwhile, Stroman is throwing his fastball seven percent more than he did in 2019, is relying a lot on his slider (which he largely abandoned in 2019), and has stopped throwing his curve entirely. He has also introduced a harder changeup that he is throwing around 10 percent of the time.

A look at Stroman's advanced stats shows that his chase rate and the spin rate on his fastball has been elite, while he has been above average when it comes to preventing batters from barreling up his pitches.

WHAT MIGHT NOT BE SUSTAINABLE?

Stroman has stranded 95.6 percent of the runners he's allowed to reach base, while his career LOB rate is 72.2 percent. More runners will cross the plate eventually.

And the BABIP against Stroman is .175, something that seems likely to rise substantially. But it should be pointed out that Stroman's soft contact rate of 8.6 percent is by far the best of his career. So the crazy low BABIP isn't a total fluke.

Stroman's FIP is 3.25, which means his ERA is due for a regression to the mean -- but it doesn't really take advanced stats to know that, unless you expected him to finish the season with a sub-1.00 ERA.

It should also be noted that Stroman has a recent history of outperforming his FIPs. He had a 3.22 ERA and 3.72 FIP in 2019 and a 3.09 ERA and 3.90 FIP in 2017. So this version of Stroman being a pitcher who outperforms his expectations (like Taijuan Walker has done during his career) can't be discounted.

Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman

With Jacob deGrom his usual self, Stroman pitching this way, Walker's increased velocity, and David Peterson's career-best start against the Philadelphia Phillies last week, the Mets should be salivating at the prospect that Carlos Carrasco could rejoin the rotation by the end of April, with Noah Syndergaard's return possible around June 1.

There's also the question of Stroman's future in New York, with him set to hit free agency after the season.

A possible Stroman extension hasn't been discussed much, as most of the focus has been on potential deals for Syndergaard and Michael Conforto.

But as we wrote in February, an extension for Stroman should very much be on the Mets' radar. And the price is going up.