Marcus Stroman has enjoyed his share of successful outings during his first season with the Chicago Cubs. Facing his latest former team could provide some extra incentive toward recording another positive performance.
Facing the visiting New York Mets for the first time since leaving that club after last season, Stroman (2-5, 4.91 ERA) will try to help the Cubs snap a seven-game losing streak on Friday.
Dealt to the Mets from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2019 trade deadline, Stroman went 14-15 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.15 WHIP during 44 starts for New York. After opting out of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, the right-hander had a team-high 10 wins for the Mets last season.
However, New York successfully pursued Max Scherzer, leaving Stroman on the outside looking in. Stroman, at times, voiced his displeasure after leaving Queens to sign a three-year, $71 million contract with the Cubs in December.
Judging by his overall record and 0-3 mark with a 9.33 ERA in four home starts, Stroman is still finding his place in Chicago. However, he has yielded more than two earned runs just once in his last seven starts.
Stroman returned Saturday after missing more than a month with shoulder inflammation, and he allowed two hits and one walk over four scoreless innings in a no-decision against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I think we found some things to work on going forward to provide some consistency,” Stroman said. “I’m excited to see the results.”
Stroman faced the Mets once previously, taking a loss for the Blue Jays in 2018 after allowing six runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Scuffling at 21 games under .500, Chicago needs to see positive results after batting .198 with 60 strikeouts while being outscored 43-20 during its second-longest hitting streak of the season.
The Cubs managed just eight hits — all singles — while falling 8-0 to New York in the series opener on Thursday, and they face another stiff challenge in Mets’ scheduled Friday starter, Taijuan Walker (7-2, 2.63 ERA).
During his second season in New York, Walker has already matched his win total from 2021 despite being saddled with minimal run support. The right-hander did not allow a run in two of his last three starts, most recently Sunday, when he yielded three hits and a walk while striking out seven in seven innings during a no-decision against the Miami Marlins.
“He’s had a competitive gleam in his eye since the day he walked into (spring training),” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Tai really wants to be a contributor to a really good club.”
Walker went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA with 19 strikeouts against the Cubs last year. The loss came early that season at Chicago, when he allowed three runs (two earned) with two hits, but he walked six while fanning seven over 3 2/3 innings.
Cubs All-Stars Ian Happ and Willson Contreras are a combined 2-for-9 against Walker. Contreras is also 3-for-35 (.086) with 12 strikeouts in nine July games.
Chicago teammate Nico Hoerner, though, has hit safely in seven straight games and is batting .390 (32-for-82) during his past 21 contests.
With a two-run homer on Thursday, his 24th long ball of the season, New York’s Pete Alonso has gone deep six times in eight career games at Wrigley Field. Meanwhile, fellow Mets All-Star Starling Marte is 10-for-26 (.385) during a six-game road hitting streak.
–Field Level Media