Born: May 1, 1991
Birthplace: Meford, NY
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Marcus Earl Stroman (born May 1, 1991) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). He is listed at 180lbs and is 5' 8" tall, making him one of only six pitchers shorter than 5' 10" to make a start at the MLB level in the 21st century.
In 2017 he was the World Baseball Classic MVP. After the regular season, he was awarded a 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Billed by analysts as the most major league ready player available in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, Stroman was drafted by the Jays 22nd overall, and became the first Duke player ever selected in the first round. After starting his professional career with the Low-A Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays promoted Stroman to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats on August 1, 2012. Stroman was suspended for 50 games on August 28, 2012, for testing positive for methylhexanamine, a banned stimulant.
Having completed his suspension, Stroman started and pitched five scoreless innings to get the win in the May 19, 2013 game for the Fisher Cats. On July 2, 2013, Stroman struck out 13 batters over 62⁄3 innings in a 3–1 loss to the New Britain Rock Cats. He was ranked as the number 3 prospect in the Blue Jays organization on July 26, 2013, when the revised Top 100 Prospects list was released.
Stroman attended the Blue Jays' 2014 major league spring training camp, and was assigned to the minor league camp on March 19. He was the 2014 Opening Day starting pitcher for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
Stroman was called up to the Blue Jays on May 3, 2014, after Brandon Morrow was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. At the time of his call-up, he was considered the organization's number two prospect. He earned his first MLB victory on May 6, pitching 11⁄3 innings in relief of Drew Hutchison. Stroman was optioned back to Triple-A Buffalo on May 18, and was recalled on May 30 to make his first Major League start the following day. He pitched six innings and surrendered only one earned run on five hits, striking out six and issuing no walks to earn the win over the Kansas City Royals. On August 9, Stroman pitched nine innings for the first time in his career, but came away with a no-decision as the Blue Jays defeated the Detroit Tigers 3–2 in extra innings. He would earn his first complete game and shutout on September 8, needing only 93 pitches to beat the Chicago Cubs, 8–0. Stroman yielded only three hits and at one point had retired 19 consecutive batters.
On September 17, Stroman was suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing at Caleb Joseph during a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Immediately following the announcement, he filed an appeal of the suspension. On September 21, Stroman dropped his appeal, and MLB reduced his suspension to five games. It was announced shortly afterward that upon his return from the suspension, he would be moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. Stroman pitched four innings in relief of Drew Hutchison's final start of the season on September 26, and earned his first career save. He did not appear in the final two games of the Blue Jays season, and finished 2014 with an 11–6 record, 3.65 ERA, 111 strikeouts, and a 1.17 WHIP in 1302⁄3 innings pitched.
On October 6, 2014, Stroman announced through his Twitter account that he would change his uniform number from 54 to 6 in honor of his grandmother. During spring training, Stroman suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He underwent a successful surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, to repair his ACL. Stroman was placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 5. While rehabbing the injury, Stroman returned to Duke University to finish his degree, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Markets and Management Studies
On August 5, it was announced that Stroman would begin a rehab assignment later in the month. He threw off a mound for the first time since his injury on August 11, after receiving medical clearance the day prior. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos stated afterward that Stroman would be stretched out as a starter in his rehab. Stroman threw a 40-pitch simulated game on August 24, and a 51-pitch game on August 28. On September 2, he made his Class-A debut with the Lansing Lugnuts and pitched 42⁄3 innings, yielding no hits while walking one and striking out seven. He made his second and final rehab start on September 7, with the Buffalo Bisons. Manager John Gibbons confirmed on September 8 that Stroman would return as a starting pitcher, and make his 2015 debut against the New York Yankees on September 12. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list on September 11, and started the second game of a doubleheader the following day. Stroman would pitch five innings and earn the win, yielding three runs before being removed due to a rain delay. He would make three more starts and finish the 2015 regular season with a 4–0 record, 1.67 ERA, and 18 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
Stroman played his first career postseason game in Game 2 of the 2015 American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers. He gave up three earned runs and struck out five, retiring 14 consecutive batters at one point. He pitched seven innings and received a no-decision in the loss. He started again in game 5 of the same series, allowing six hits and two earned runs over six innings in an eventual 6–3 Blue Jays victory.
On March 23, 2016, Stroman was named the Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays. He pitched into the ninth inning, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs on six hits, while striking out 5 in a 5–3 win. Stroman established a new career-high in strikeouts, with 9, in a 5–1 win over the Rays on May 1. He also set a Blue Jays franchise-record for strikeouts on a pitcher's birthday, surpassing David Price, Marc Rzepczynski, and Roy Halladay, who each had 8 strikeouts in starts on their birthdays. Stroman improved on his single-game strikeout record on August 1, when he struck out 13 Houston Astros batters in a no-decision. He finished the 2016 regular season with a 9–10 record, 4.37 ERA, and 166 strikeouts over a career-high 204 innings pitched. He had the highest ground ball percentage among major league pitchers (60.1%), and the lowest fly ball percentage (20.4%).
On October 3, the Blue Jays announced that Stroman would start the Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles the following day. He pitched a full six innings, giving up just two earned runs and striking out six, as the Blue Jays won the game 5–2 in extra innings and advanced to the 2016 American League Division Series to play the Texas Rangers. Stroman was scheduled to start the fourth game of the ALDS against the Rangers, however the Blue Jays swept Texas and advanced to play the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series. Stroman pitched 51⁄3 and yielded four earned runs in his lone ALCS start.
On February 14, 2017, it was announced that Stroman had won his arbitration case and would receive a $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. In a 6–5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 25, Stroman recorded the first hit of his career. His double to left field was the first ever pinch hit by a Blue Jays pitcher, and also the first extra-base pinch hit by an American League pitcher since Gary Peters in 1971. Stroman hit an opposite field home run off Julio Teherán in the Blue Jays 9–0 win over the Atlanta Braves on May 18, 2017. In doing so, Stroman became just the second Blue Jays pitcher to hit a home run, joining Mark Hendrickson, who did so on June 21, 2003. Stroman's home run followed Luke Maile's solo shot, making the batterymates the first to hit back-to-back home runs since 1970. He also became the first pitcher listed 5' 8" or shorter to hit a home run in the majors since Tom Phoebus of the Baltimore Orioles did so in 1968. On July 3, Stroman left a game against the New York Yankees after five innings when a blister developed on his right middle finger, though the injury did not cause him to miss a start. Stroman was hit on the right elbow by a line drive in Toronto's 7–2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on September 2, and was forced to leave the game, though he was once again able to make his next start. Stroman finished the 2017 season with 13 wins, 164 strikeouts, and a 3.09 ERA in 201 innings. By passing the 200-inning mark, he became the seventh Blue Jays pitcher in the prior 20 years to have consecutive 200-inning seasons. He again had the highest ground ball percentage among major league pitchers (62.1%), and the lowest fly ball percentage (19.7%).
On October 28, Stroman was named a finalist for the American League pitcher's Gold Glove Award, along with Alex Cobb and Chris Sale. Stroman won the award on November 7. The Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America unanimously voted Stroman the Blue Jays' Pitcher of the Year for 2017.
On February 15, 2018, Stroman announced through his Twitter account that he had lost his arbitration case and would make $6.5 million for the season instead of his requested salary of $6.9 million. On May 11, Stroman was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to right shoulder fatigue.
In December 2016, Stroman announced that he would play for Team USA at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He made three starts for the team, and posted a 2.35 ERA in 151⁄3 total innings. In the final game, Stroman held Team Puerto Rico scoreless and without a hit through six innings, leading Team USA to an 8–0 victory and their first WBC championship. Following the game, Stroman was named the tournament's most valuable player (MVP). He was also named to the All-World Baseball Classic team.
Personal Life and Family
Stroman was born in Medford, New York, to Earl Stroman and Adlin Auffant, who divorced when he was in the 5th grade. His mother is Puerto Rican, making him eligible to represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. His father is a police detective in Suffolk County, New York. Stroman has a brother, Jayden, and sister, Sabria. His cousin, Erskine Kelley, played minor league baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs organizations. Stroman has several tattoos, including a large tribute on his left shoulder to his grandmother, Gloria Major, who would regularly attend his high school games and died while he was attending Duke University.
In 1997, a six-year-old Stroman made an appearance on the Nickelodeon game show Figure It Out.
On January 9, 2015, Stroman completed the legal process for trademarking "Height Doesn't Measure Heart" and "HDMH". Since mid-2015, he has produced caps with New Era that feature his trademarks. He has also partnered with Nike, Jordan Brand, BioSteel, and Rogers to create apparel featuring the HDMH logo. Stroman stated in December 2016 that he measured exactly 5' 7.25" for a physical examination for Nike.