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Cubs’ Marcus Stroman hits his stride in impressive July

The Straw Show Cubs signed up for arrives originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After Alfonso Rivas snared a line drive off the bat of Giants third baseman Jason Vosler, Cubs starter Marcus Stroman paused to clap his hand and glove together in appreciation.

The catch put a bow on Stroman’s six strong innings Friday night in San Francisco. He held the Giants scoreless, scattering eight hits (six singles) with one walk.

When the Cubs landed Stroman in a free agent splash over the offseason, performances like Friday are what everyone envisioned. And as the calendar gets set to flip to August, it’s evident Stroman has hit his stride.

“He’s been great. That’s who he is,” Cubs outfielder Ian Happ said. “He lives in the zone, does a really good job of sinking it at the bottom and getting groundballs and weak contact.

“That’s who he’s been his whole career. It’s been really fun to watch.”

Stroman had an up-and-down April before a bout with COVID-19 sidelined him for three weeks in May. After he returned, his shoulder never felt right, and he went on the injured list following his June 3 start against the Cardinals in which he allowed nine earned runs.

He’s gotten on a roll since coming off the IL earlier this month, posting a 0.89 ERA in four starts (20 1/3 innings) against the Dodgers, Mets, Phillies and Giants.

After the Cubs were cautious with his workload against Los Angeles and New York, he’s thrown back-to-back quality starts.

“He’s just pitching his game. It’s all quadrants all the time,” manager David Ross said. “He’s got a nice rhythm to him. I feel like he’s in control of the game.”

Even with the COVID and shoulder absences, Stroman has put up good numbers the last three months. In nine starts since May, he has a 2.79 ERA in 48 1/3 innings.

In his eight starts outside of the St. Louis outing that preceded his IL stint, he has a 1.22 ERA since May.

“Stro has just continued to get on track for who he’s been in his career,” Ross said before the game. “He’s a really good pitcher and pitches at a high level when he’s right.

“We need him to be good, to pitch his game,” Ross added. “He’s done a really nice job of that since he’s been back.”

Stroman’s track record in his career speaks for itself. For the adversity he’s had this season, July showed “The Straw Show” has arrived.

“You’ve got to really commit to the process, the journey,” Stroman said. “That’s something I’ve always done, regardless of how I’m pitching.

“The work that goes into it is usually amazing. I do as much as I can. If I’m not pitching well out there, I’m doing more away from the field.

“I’ve just been on a roll. Body feels good, sinker is doing everything I need it to do. Everything plays off that.”

Contributing from San Francisco: Gordon Wittenmyer

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