Marcus Stroman adopting role as Mets ace in stride

Marcus Stroman
Aug 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (0) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to fully fill the shoes of Jacob deGrom, but Marcus Stroman is certainly doing his best to keep the New York Mets’ starting rotation moving forward down the stretch of the 2021 campaign.

The 30-year-old right-hander spun together yet another gem against the imposing Los Angeles Dodgers, posting six innings of two-run ball while allowing just four hits and striking out six. The performance paced a rare 7-2 Mets victory — just their second in 10 games and their sixth of August.

Stroman’s 13th quality start (at least six innings pitched with three earned runs or fewer allowed) of the season has his 2021 ERA at 2.85 over 145.1 innings, which is a career-best and ranks eighth in Major League Baseball. 

“He’s been outstanding,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s leading the teams in wins and he has all those innings. He hasn’t missed a start and he’s able to go out there and give us six. That’s huge, especially for the bullpen, which has been overused.”

It’s why his 9-12 record is a harsh one, but a pitfall of receiving little support from a team whose offense has failed to find its groove.

“He’s been outstanding for us. I don’t think we’ve hit enough behind the way he’s pitched,” Rojas added. “That’s why his ERA shows like that and he has a losing record. That’s not fair, but he’s pitched like an ace.

His ability to be a steady presence in an uncertain Mets rotation this year — headlined by the loss of deGrom in July and delayed rehabs of Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard — has not only been invaluable to the club, but it’s further reminding baseball that he can shoulder the responsibility of being a front-line starter.

The Long Island native leads the league with 26 starts — 23 of which he’s only yielded three runs or fewer — and is on pace to eclipse the 190-inning mark for the first time since 2017. He’s also projected to strike out a career-best 169 batters while being another glue guy in a tight-knit clubhouse.

“His energy is contagious all the time,” Rojas said. “He’s been very valuable and he’s one of the guys who has kept us afloat.”

Stroman has built the reputation of being a tireless student of the game, finely honing his craft through a litany of avenues that don’t always solely revolve around baseball.

“Just mix,” Stroman said of his work ethic. “Just being really aggressive and putting a huge emphasis on my five-day [break] in between [starts], doing everything I can to clear my mind and my body, and just going out there and competing.”

There is no magic formula for success, but he certainly has found the right repertoire; and at a perfect time, too. Stroman will be one of the most sought-after starting-pitching free agents on the market this winter when his contract expires.