BALTIMORE — Marcus Stroman had a vision in his head as he rehabbed a torn ACL in his left knee. The Toronto Blue Jays pitcher saw himself pitching in meaningful games in a playoff race.
“That’s kind of what kept me going,” Stroman said.
Less than seven months after going down with a knee injury that looked season-ending, Stroman woke up Wednesday excited to put a “storybook ending” on his recovery.
In his fourth start of the season, Stroman’s eight innings of one-run baseball combined with another offensive outburst delivered the Blue Jays the American League East title, the franchise’s first since 1993.
Stroman was 2-years-old at the time. Now 24, the right-handed future ace of Toronto’s staff is revelling in his comeback and the team’s turnaround.
“It still feels like a dream, to be honest with you,” Stroman said. “How everything played out from the beginning of this season and being in this position to help my team clinch, it’s been a journey, it’s been a special ride. I’m just thankful for everybody who helped me get to this point.”
Stroman singled out his doctors at Duke University and his teammates for helping him along the way. The front office had faith that Stroman could return and help this season, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos didn’t want to count on it.
“You just don’t want to plan for it, and it was going to be found money if he’d come back,” Anthopoulos said.
After acquiring David Price at the trade deadline, the Blue Jays found a $20 bill in their back pocket with Stroman, who’s 4-0 with a 1.67 earned-run average since making his debut.
Because the injury was to his knee and not his throwing arm, the Blue Jays were confident Stroman could reach peak performance.
“I knew if I got back and my knee was ready to go, I knew that I’d be able to pitch in pretty big games and I knew my stuff would be where it would be and I knew I could be in mid-season form to where I was last year,” Stroman said.
Now Toronto goes into the playoffs with a potential rotation of Price, Stroman, Marco Estrada and R.A. Dickey. That would’ve been hard to imagine as recently as mid-July.
“I kept good faith the entire way, and it played out perfectly,” Stroman said. “I’m just blessed and lucky to be in this position.”
Follow @SWhyno on Twitter
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press