Cubs’ Marcus Stroman credits pitching in WBC for strong start

Stroman pointed to his 2017 season with the Blue Jays, when he pitched 201 innings after participating in the WBC.

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Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs

Marcus Stroman became the first Cubs starter to begin the season with consecutive starts of at least six scoreless innings since Mike Bielecki in 1991, according to Elias.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Cubs starter Marcus Stroman hasn’t allowed a run in his first two outings covering 12 innings and believes pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic last month gave him a head start.

“I feel it puts you in that competitive mind frame and gets you going much earlier than spring training, where you can go through the motions at that time,” Stroman said Friday after helping to beat the Rangers 2-0.

Stroman pointed to his 2017 season with the Blue Jays. He pitched 201 innings that year after participating in the WBC.

His sinker was on point again Friday as he allowed only two hits while striking out six.

“If I can get my sinker to where I can get it in the [strike] zone, I can get an out a majority of the time,” he said. “If you give me more confidence, that’s a scary sight.”

Center fielder Cody Bellinger marveled at the effectiveness of Stroman’s sinker.

“I had a pretty cool feel to see how much his ball is moving,” Bellinger said. “He’s definitely not scared of the big moment, and he trusts his stuff, and his stuff has been very good.”

Stroman is the first Cubs starter to begin a season with consecutive starts of at least six scoreless innings since Mike Bielecki in 1991, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Stroman has allowed one run or fewer in seven of his last nine starts dating to last Aug. 30.

No time to wait

New rules governing the time between pitches have resulted in faster games, forcing late-inning relievers such as Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger to start their routines sooner.

“We used to wait until the first inning or first pitch to do stuff,” said Fulmer, who pitched the final two innings of Friday’s win. “Now, starting before the game has been a big thing so far.”

But Fulmer isn’t complaining about the pace of games.

“A quicker game keeps everyone focused and motivated and ready to go at any time,” he said. “You just get your stuff done a little earlier.”

This and that

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki (oblique) and left-handed reliever Brandon Hughes (knee) will start rehab assignments Saturday for Triple-A Iowa at St. Paul. Cubs manager David Ross intimated that Suzuki could be ahead of Hughes and could have his status reassessed after Sunday’s game.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson played in his 388th game since the start of 2020, tying him with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the most in the majors during that span.

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