The Philadelphia Phillies are leaving no stone unturned in search of a starting pitcher, but Marcus Stroman belongs at the top of their list.
Since leading the NL East in early June, the Philadelphia Phillies have fallen to 50-47, 7.5 games back in the division and a half-game of a Wild Card spot. Rumors have attached them to multiple pitchers heading toward the trade deadline, and now according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com they are interested in Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman.
After a rough 2018, Stroman has a 3.25 ERA over 19 starts this season (110.2 innings) with a 7.2 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9. He also earned his first career All-Star selection, and finished top-10 in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2017.
The Phillies have rumored interest in Madison Bumgarner, Matthew Boyd, Robbie Ray and Mike Minor, so a move to be interested in Stroman is natural.
Stroman is an adequate but not elite strikeout pitcher. His strong suits are limiting walks and inducing ground balls, at an elite level in the latter mark. He posted a ground ball rate north of 62 percent in both 2017 and 2018, and he’s “down” to 57.9 percent this season entering his next start against the Detroit Tigers Friday night. As Morosi reported, that outing will be well-attended by scouts.
Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia is very hitter-friendly, even if it’s not reflected by ESPN’s Park Factor for runs (18th in MLB). There’s a slight uptick toward hitters in home runs (1.093 Park Factor, 13th in MLB), and the ballpark has a top-10 Park Factor for walks allowed (favoring the hitter), perhaps as a bi-product of pitchers fearing the close fences. By comparison, Rogers Centre in Toronto (Stroman’s current home park), has the hitter-friendliest Park Factor for home runs so far this year.
As a pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground and walks few, Stroman has shown he can function well in a hitter-friendly park. As the Phillies shape their trade deadline plans, their interest in Stroman is easily explained based on what he brings to the table and he should clearly be atop their list of pitching targets.