Blister issue latest frustration in Stroman’s sideways season

Marcus Stroman spoke about a blister he's dealing with and his plan to let it heal, even if it means he has to miss making a start.

NEW YORK – Another trip to the disabled is imminent for Marcus Stroman after a blister reopened on his right middle finger, ripping into deeper layers of skin on the padded tip area.

The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t make the move official Saturday but they’re planning as if it’s going to happen, with manager John Gibbons saying lefty Thomas Pannone will come up from triple-A Buffalo to cover for the right-hander next Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Stroman conceded that if the team decides to put him on the DL to allow for better healing, “that makes sense,” and added he hopes to miss just one start. But the blister issue – it first tore during the seventh inning of a dominant outing against Boston last week and reopened on his first pitch of the fourth inning Friday against the Yankees – is the latest frustration in a season that’s been sideways for him since his shoulder flared up in the spring.

“Way more. Way more frustrating. It’s just out of your control,” Stroman said of dealing with the blister, which he’s largely managed to contain since last summer. “I killed myself to be back this year, to get my shoulder right and it’s finally getting to the point where it feels great and to have this pop up – it sucks. It’s something I have to deal with, it’s something I’ll get through.

“I usually channel and turn adversity into a positive always, so I’ll get through this. I know who I am as a pitcher, I know how dominant I’m going to be in this game for many, many years to come and it’s just a matter of getting this right. I’ll get through it and I’ll come out stronger like I always do.”

Stroman posted back-to-back 200-inning seasons in 2016 and ’17 but just cracked the century mark during a truncated four-inning outing Friday night against the Yankees. A bout of shoulder inflammation in the spring cost him an opening day start and left him chasing his year, leading to his first DL stint in early May.

Through 18 starts, he’s carrying a 5.27 ERA – although his FIP is 3.92, a tick above last year’s 3.90 – with a WHIP of 1.440. The blister has been an issue throughout.

“It’s kind of been something I’ve prided myself on getting through and I’m never one to bark about this being an issue ever,” said Stroman. “And I pride myself on being able to go out there and battle regardless of what I have going on and I’ve gotten out there and I want to continue to go out there. I’m going to get through this because that’s who I am. But at this point right now I need to let it heal for a few days and kind of let that skin fully get back to being healthy.”

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The blister developed right on the padding of the fingertip, which is placed on the seam for his bread-and-butter two-seamer. Once it tore, the far more sensitive layers of flesh were exposed, making it difficult for him to spin the ball properly.

Against the Yankees on Friday, he threw 32 sinkers and 31 cutters among his 88 pitches, largely staying away from his breaking balls. The heat and humidity may have amplified the problems.

“I couldn’t even throw a curveball or slider,” he said. “I essentially narrowed it down to two pitches, I couldn’t throw many sinkers so the cutter was the one I was kind of … I didn’t feel it. It’s hard to keep battling that and going out there knowing that you can only go to one or two of your weapons out of your repertoire. But I know the pitcher I am, I know how dominant I can be in this game and it’s just a matter of getting this right and going from there.”

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