Sport

Blue Jays, Stroman stymie Royals

Blue Jays, Stroman stymie Royals

A more consistent and successful September from the Marco Estrada that Toronto Blue Jays fans are accustomed to seeing pitch probably was the difference between him staying with the team versus testing free agency this winter.

He had a no-decision June 23 in his only start against the Blue Jays this season, allowing two runs, six hits and two walks while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings. Estrada is one of four veteran starters now under contract for next season, a group that also includes left-hander J.A. Happ and right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.

"I think it's a combination of putting in a ton of work in the off-season and during the season, focusing on my body and the help of the training staff", Stroman said of his durability. "I feel great and I'm looking forward to my next two starts". Factoring in very rough estimates for their eight arbitration-eligible players (Dominic Leone could make it nine if he qualifies as a Super 2), they're at about $135 million, leaving some $25 million to spend on external additions and 0-3 service time players if the payroll remains in this year's $160 million range.

"I knew I wanted to come back here and I knew if I got a fair offer, I would definitely listen to it", Estrada said.

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Bautista's first shot at setting the strikeout mark arrives Wednesday evening when the Blue Jays take on the Royals in the second of a three-game set. Estrada will establish a career-high in innings pitched with 4.2 additional innings this season. While declining to offer specifics, Estrada said "personal issues" were at the root of his midseason struggles.

"I'm not going to get into it too much", he said. In 11 starts since, he has a 3.74 ERA and a.223/.282/.398 opponent's batting line. Once I had a clear head, everybody has seen the results ever since then.

General manager Ross Atkins hinted at an extension when Estrada wasn't dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline, saying, "we'll start thinking about not only how he impacts us now, but how he can potentially impact us beyond 2017". He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015.

"All I can go back to is how happy I am here", Estrada said.


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