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Marcus Stroman to Cubs - Fantasy Impact

The Chicago Cubs signed veteran Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million deal to anchor a veteran pitching staff on a rebuilding team.

This is a good time to look back to Marcus Stroman's 2021 season and look ahead to what the 2022 fantasy baseball season might bring.

Read about other free agent moves and their fantasy impact right here.

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Reviewing Marcus Stroman's 2021

In 2021, Stroman posted 10 wins, a 3.02 ERA, 158 strikeouts, and a 1.15 WHIP over 179 innings pitched. Looking at many of his stats, they look very similar to his first season in 2014 when everyone in the fantasy community was excited about Stroman's potential.

His 3.02 ERA was a career-best over a full season, as his next lowest ERA was 3.09 in 2017. His 21.6% strikeout percentage was a career-best, his 6.0% walk percentage was his lowest since 2016. His K-BB% was a career-best 15.6%, second to his 15.5% in his first season in 2014. Stroman also benefitted from a low BABIP, .286, much lower than his career BABIP of .304.

Overall Stroman returned SP 28 value, which was 109 overall in 12 team 5x5 leagues, and 131 overall in 15 team 5x5 leagues according to Razzball's player rater. How might he fare in 2022?


Looking Ahead To 2022 Drafts

The NFBC has started drafts for the 2022 season meaning we have an Average Draft Position (ADP) that we can check. Why NFBC? These are high-stakes leagues, not mock drafts, and give a more accurate picture of where someone who is paying significant money to play fantasy baseball will draft a specific player.

In 12 team leagues, Stroman's ADP is 156.87, with a high of 202 and a minimum of 103, which is SP 46. In 15 team leagues, the ADP is 164.22 with a high of 234 and a minimum of 125, which is SP 50. Overall not a huge difference between the contests to where Stroman is going. In both sizes, he is being drafted as an SP4.

Is he likely to perform as an SP 4 or better in 2022?


How Will Stroman Fare In 2022?

Steamer projects Stroman very close to his career averages, which makes sense. They have him down for a 4.09 ERA (3.63 career), 1.34 WHIP (1.27 career), 158 strikeouts in 188 innings pitched which is a 19.7 K% (19.9% career). They also have him projected for a 12.7% K-BB%, with his career number being 13.2%.

When I look ahead to pitchers in the future, I look at K-BB% quite a bit. In 2021, his 15.6% K-BB% was No. 25 among qualified starting pitchers. His projected 12.7% from Steamer would be SP 30 last year. His projected 1.34 WHIP would be No. 35 last year and his 4.09 ERA would be No 29.

There is no exact match but the closest comparison to his projection next year was Zack Greinke this year. Greinke had a 4.16 ERA, a 12.1% K-BB%, a WHIP of 1.17 and a K% of 17.2%. Greinke in the Razzball Player Rater was SP 57 and No. 181 overall.

Definitely expect Stroman to regress closer to his career averages as some of the underlying stats showed that he had not only a career year but benefitted from some positive variance as well.


Team Outlook: Chicago Cubs

It could be argued that Marcus Stroman will be the ace of the pitching staff, as Kyle Hendricks struggled mightily in 2021. The Cubs were No. 21 in runs scored and were No. 16 in defensive runs above average. I have not seen any moves that help the Cubs in either of those two areas for 2022. Stroman has a career 57.4% ground ball rate, the success he will have depends on the quality of defense behind him. It would appear that the Cubs are not a great fit for Stroman, meaning that wins will be hard to come by and his WHIP may be high allowing more hits with an average defense behind him.

On the flip side, the Mets last year were No. 15 in defensive runs above average and were No. 27 in runs scored and Stroman had a career year. Team context may not matter as much and it will make more sense to project him close to his career averages. The move from 2021 Mets to 2022 Cubs may not be as large of a difference as one thinks.


Final Takeaways

The market has Marcus Stroman priced appropriately. He performed like an SP3 but is being drafted as an SP4 right now. My general strategy when playing fantasy baseball is to draft three starting pitchers I trust. After that, the tiers for me widen. I am just  interested in dart throws after that point. With SP4 to SP 8, I just hope someone pops and I generally rank them all similarly.

Because Stroman had a great year last year, the odds of him doing that again is lower. If I am drafting a Draft Champions/Draft and Hold type of a format, I want guys projected for innings beyond my SP3, and Stroman is projected for 188 innings. 188 innings would be No. 7 among all starting pitchers in 2021.

Is Stroman someone I am targeting in drafts? Not really.

Is he someone I am OK with drafting as an SP 4? Yes.

Is he someone I will be upset about missing out on for 2022? Nah.

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