Toronto Blue Jay’s starting pitcher Marcus Stroman will be joining Max Scherzer and Chris Archer on the pitching staff for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He had the option of playing for Puerto Rico, as his mother is of Puerto Rican descent but ultimately decided to relive his USA Baseball days and represent the country he was born in.
Stroman has been one of my favorite players to follow in recent years, not just because of his on-field ability, but what he has done off of it. He was drafted 22nd overall in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, becoming the first Duke player ever to be selected in the first round. He made quick work of the minor leagues, earning a call-up to the big league club in May of 2014, and finished the season with an 11-6 record, 3.65 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP in 130 ⅔ innings with the Blue Jays.
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His baseball career hit a speed bump in spring training in 2015 when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ruling him out for the 2015 season. Stroman proceeded to make the full use of his time while on the disabled list, as he returned to Duke University to finish his degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree from one of the country’s most prestigious colleges, while rehabbing his knee so he can get back to playing Major League Baseball. This is the kind of stuff you don’t see very often, but is inspiring to watch when you do.
Amazingly, he managed to work his way back from seemingly season-ending injury, earn his degree, and still make it back in time to pitch in 2015. He made his season debut in early September, and went on to finish the season with a 4-0 record with a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings pitched. Stroman also made two starts in the postseason, a seven inning no decision in Game 2 of the 2015 ALDS, and a six inning win in Game 5.
Stroman’s remarkable finish to the 2015 season earned him the Opening Day start in 2016, where he pitched into the ninth inning and earned the win. He finished the season at 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA, 1.289 WHIP and 166 strikeouts in 32 starts for the first place Blue Jays. In two starts in the 2016 postseason, Stroman pitched 11 ⅓ innings, giving up six earned and striking out 11. He helped the Jays advance to the ALDS with a solid performance in the Wild Card Game, but fell to the Indians in Game 3 of the ALCS.
His mother, Adlin Auffant, is a Puerto Rico native, and Stroman has stated in the past that he would like to represent Puerto Rico, but he decided to represent the United States, as he did in 2011 for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. This time it will be on the largest scale, as he will look to help Team USA bring home a medal for the first time in the fourth edition of the World Baseball Classic.
Team USA will begin play on Friday, March 10th against Colombia. They were placed in Pool C where they will face off against Colombia, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. Stroman joins Scherzer and Archer in the rotation, as well as Adam Jones, Nolan Arenado and Jonathan Lucroy.