Reviewing Stroman’s MVP Performance

Shouldering a championship trophy half his size, last night’s starter for Team USA contained his grin under the bright lights of Dodger Stadium as he soaked in his new title.

Marcus Stroman, World Baseball Classic MVP.

That’ll look really nice on the resume next to a B.A. in Sociology from Duke.

Last night was possibly the biggest moment of Marcus Stroman’s career (though he has a couple big postseason performances with it), and he made every effort to make it look casual and routine. I don’t want to read too much into the iconic shimmy, but I also really do want to. It was partly a bit of spontaneous fun. It was partly directed at those who think Americans can’t have fun playing baseball. And it was partly a message for everyone who’s been sleeping on him. Wake up.

Perhaps the scariest part about facing Marcus Stroman is that he can beat you in so many different ways. When his secondary stuff is on, he can overpower you with strikeouts. And when he’s spotting his sinker, he can mow through a lineup with ruthless efficiency. Last night, he chose ruthless efficiency, needing just 68 pitches to get through six innings of no-hit ball.

Let’s do a fun hypothetical using game scores. Stroman ended up with a 75 game score, which is great, but in a normal regular season game there’s no way he’d have been pulled after 73 pitches. So let’s say Jim Leyland left Stroman out to finish the game, and let’s say he tallied another three strikeouts and allowed another hit. Going off this formula, that adds up to a 94 Game Score. That would have been a career-best mark against a tough Puerto Rico lineup that featured both Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.

And just for the record, it’s not unfathomable that Stroman could’ve thrown a complete game shutout while staying under the WBC-enforced 95-pitch maximum for starters. He got 11 of his 18 outs via the groundball, leading to multiple sub-10 pitch innings. Of course facing Correa a fourth time is never a good idea, but it’s mindblowing that Stroman was essentially on pace for a Maddux in the WBC Final. There was simply nothing Puerto Rico could do against the Jays’ young righty. He was that good.

If Stroman can come anywhere close to that level of efficiency this season, then we can throw his 160-170 IP projection out the window and safely bet on another 200+ IP season. At five-foot-seven, he’ll never be considered a prototypical workhorse, but then again, that’s probably the last thing Stroman would want to be called. Workhorse or not, for at least one night, Stroman was an ace. We’ll take that.

Lead Photo © Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

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