Cubs: Don’t look now, but Marcus Stroman is rolling as of late

(Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images) /
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The first few months of Marcus Stroman’s Cubs tenure didn’t exactly go as planned. We knew heading into the year that for Chicago to have any chance at competing in the National League this year, the starting pitching would have to be drastically improved over last season.

On paper – it looked like it would be. Stroman joined the likes of Wade Miley and Drew Smyly as new faces alongside longtime rotation staple Kyle Hendricks and young left-hander Justin Steele. But Miley and Smyly have combined for just 78 total innings on the year and Stroman was largely ineffective in the season’s first month.

The right-hander finished April with a 6.98 ERA in four starts and, in typical Cubs fan fashion, the masses were ready to slap a ‘bust’ label on the newcomer. He didn’t exactly endear himself to the Wrigley faithful from there, either, thanks to a pair of lengthy IL stints. But since he’s returned in early July, it’s been a totally different story.

Stroman’s latest outing ended on a sour note, with a pair of seventh-inning home runs, the latter of which wound up costing him a chance at a win against the rival Cardinals. Still, his final line is certainly quality: 6 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 0 BB. The veteran narrowly missed tying a season high of seven innings pitched and certainly put his team in a good position.

Cubs need Marcus Stroman to have a strong finish to the 2022 season

This is a trend that, like I said, spans the last month. Thursday marks the first time Stroman has allowed more than one earned run in a start since a disastrous start on June 3 against St. Louis. Since the start of May, his ERA has dropped nearly two full runs – from 6.98 to 4.00.

In the month of July, Stroman made four starts – and worked to a minuscule 0.89 ERA and issuing just six walks in 20 1/3 innings. Seeing him on the mound at 100 percent was a refreshing sight, and will be a major thing to watch here in the second half.

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If the Cubs want to return to the postseason in 2023, once again, it’ll take a lot breaking their way – and Stroman will be a big piece of the pitching puzzle. As the team continues to stockpile and develop young arms, veterans like Stroman will have a critical role to play in the clubhouse and on the mound moving forward.