Marcus Stroman has started against the Phillies just once in his career, pitching a seven-inning gem in June 2016.
He figures to face them many more times following Sunday’s trade. Stroman was dealt from the Blue Jays to the Mets in exchange for two of New York’s top pitching prospects.
It was a surprising move by the Mets, whose interesting trade deadline path we explored 24 hours earlier. Which trade(s) the Mets make next will go a long way in determining the logic and value of this Stroman acquisition, at least initially.
First-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen is not finished. One or both of Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard figure to be traded. So do one or both of Todd Frazier and lefty starter Jason Vargas. Frazier is a free agent at the end of the season and Vargas is owed $8 million next season before becoming a free agent.
Syndergaard tweeted this shortly after the Stroman trade went down.
Reactions were mixed. Some questioned a package headed back to Toronto that was perceived to be light. Some acknowledged this was the best the Blue Jays could do in a trade market where so many front offices think the same way, have similar valuations of veterans and cling more dearly to their prospects than ever before.
As with most trades like this, a proper judgment can’t be formed for several years.
The bigger question now is: What are the Mets trying to accomplish?
This was not a move made to lead them to the 2019 playoffs. It is about the future. Stroman offers the Mets protection in their rotation if/when they lose Wheeler and Vargas and in case they receive an offer for Syndergaard they cannot refuse. In that regard, it makes sense. It’s forward-thinking. You need more than Jacob deGrom and four question marks in the rotation. The Phillies have learned that painful lesson this season with Aaron Nola and little else of real value in the starting staff.
Stroman is a very good pitcher in the tier below “ace.” He is a contact pitcher, albeit one who generates a ton of weak contact on the ground. In the year of the home run, he has allowed just 10 in 125 innings. The low home run rate is why Stroman has been able to avoid big damage with traffic on the basepaths and why he’s been able to maintain a 2.96 ERA despite pitching at hitter-friendly Rogers Centre and facing the AL East titans so frequently.
Of Stroman’s 21 starts this season, two were against the Red Sox, one was against the Yankees and one was at Coors Field. His ERA in those four starts was 2.52 and all four were quality starts.
He also faced the Twins once and the A’s twice, two more offenses better than the majority of lineups he will face in the National League. It stands to reason that in the easier league, in a much bigger ballpark at Citi Field, Stroman can be even better.
There is also a possibility he is better than Syndergaard, period. Syndergaard has the arsenal scouts and GMs dream about. But that arsenal does not lead him to success as often as it should. Syndergaard this season has been more hittable than ever with a declining rate of strikeouts. He is always a liability with men on base because of how easy it is to run on him.
Yet the market values pitchers like Syndergaard above pitchers like Stroman because, again, so many front offices are focused and obsessed with the same skill sets. Stroman’s skill set is more underrated.
Perhaps Van Wagenen can turn Syndergaard into prospects better than the ones he just traded to Toronto. At that point, the evaluation of the Stroman trade would be contingent upon who pitches better the next few years, Stroman or Syndergaard.
The trade deadline is two days away.
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