According to MLB.com, the St. Louis Cardinals are the favorites to land Toronto Blue Bays right-hander Marcus Stroman before the July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline. Other potential landing spots include the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins. However, St. Louis would be the best destination for the Blue Jays ace. Stroman has been spectacular this year for a struggling Toronto team, making his first All-Star Game since his big-league debut in 2014 — although he didn’t pitch in the game due to tightness in his pectoral muscle. Stroman has gone 5-9, due to a lack of run support when he takes the mound, but he has posted a 3.18 ERA in 18 starts with a 1.26 WHIP. He has also walked just 32 hitters in 104.2 innings pitched.
Stroman has been one of the few bright spots for the Blue Jays this year, and there is growing speculation that he will be moved before the trade deadline. The organization looks to be heading into full rebuild mode, with a bevy of young talent in their minor-league system, led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, who is on the doorstep of the majors.
Why the Cardinals Could Use Stroman
The Cardinals have struggled from a pitching standpoint this season, sporting a 4.14 team ERA. That’s 10th in the big leagues, but still not great. Their starters all have ERA’s over four with the exception of Dakota Hudson, who owns a 3.51 ERA. Adam Wainright is aging by the day, and staying healthy has been a big issue for him in recent memory. Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas have been alright, but nothing that has really stood out. Lastly, Michael Wacha has been very disappointing with a 5.54 ERA; he has had a tough time throwing strikes, walking 39 batters in just 76.1 innings.
The Cardinals don’t have a true ace right now. Stroman has proven to be exactly that this year for the Blue Jays. When he’s healthy, Stroman can give a club 200+ innings a season, as he did in 2016 and 2017. This year, he has been consistent and put forward quality starts every fifth day. He has given up more than three runs in a start just three times this season. Stroman pounds the strike zone consistently, inducing a lot of groundballs with his sinker (57.6 percent groundball rate), which is his most frequently used pitch.
He likes to pitch to contact, which keeps his defense on their toes. Stroman’s slider is his second-best offering, which also results in a lot of weak contact. The 28-year old does a great job of keeping his pitches down in the zone too. He has surrendered just 10 home runs this year in 18 starts. The entire Cardinals rotation has been prone to the long ball, giving up 79 home runs. That doesn’t include their bullpen, which has also surrendered their fair share of bombs.
Stroman is a free agent in 2020, but he could be a valuable piece for St. Louis this season, as they fight to stay in the National League playoff race. Their bats need to wake up, but if they can add another quality starter to replace either Wacha or Wainright, who continue to struggle, it will help them compete for a Wild Card seeding, as well as the NL Central division crown.
The Blue Jays would definitely want some young talent for Stroman, preferably pitchers. It’s unknown whether the Cardinals would be open to doing as such, but if they want a proven starter who will, barring injury, log 200 innings, Stroman is their guy; he’d enhance their chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2015.