Why is Marcus Stroman playing for Puerto Rico in WBC 2023? Cubs pitcher was key to USA’s 2017 title run

Marcus Stroman was one of the stars of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was named tournament MVP after leading the United States to a championship.

The US defeated Puerto Rico in the title game behind six innings of a one-hit shutout ball from Stroman. Six years later, Americans are once again entering the WBC with sky-high expectations, but Stroman has switched sides.

Stroman will represent Puerto Rico in this tournament. He’s trying to inspire the team whose dreams he shattered in the last tournament.

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Here’s what you need to know about why Stroman will represent Puerto Rico at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Why is Marcus Stroman playing for Puerto Rico at the WBC?

The World Baseball Classic has relaxed rules about which teams a player can play for. In Stroman’s case, he is eligible to play for Puerto Rico because his mother is from the island.

According to Stroman, he relocated to Puerto Rico in honor of his mother.

“My mother is my heart. she is my rock She is my best friend. she is my blood So I can represent this woman anytime – I love her more than anything – anything for mom,” Stroman told

Stroman called Puerto Rico infielders Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor his “favorite players.”

“I feel like I resonate with these guys, how I dress, with my culture. I’m looking forward to being on the field with them,” he said.

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MORE: Edwin Díaz, Francisco Lindor to lead Puerto Rico’s 2023 WBC team

Stroman’s decision to represent the United States in 2017 was controversial in some quarters, and Puerto Ricans were upset when he missed the opportunity to wear their colors.

“I don’t respect some of the comments that were made about my mother,” Stroman said at the time.

After a dominant performance for the Americans six years ago, Stroman has a chance to build an even bigger international legacy by winning the World Baseball Classic with a different roster. Stroman told that he felt the tournament got him in shape ahead of the start of the 2017 season, so the Cubs should have every reason to encourage him to run this year.

Stroman posted a 3.50 ERA and 3.76 FIP in 25 starts in his debut season with the Cubs in 2022. He made progress in the second half after battling injuries earlier in the year.

Marcus Stroman’s 2017 WBC with USA

Stroman made three starts during the United States run to his first World Baseball Classic title. He posted a 2.35 ERA and nine strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. Two of his three starts were scoreless games, including his six innings in the title win against Puerto Rico. He was named MVP of the tournament.

MORE: USA, Dominican Republic among favorites to win WBC

Expectations for the United States are high again considering the squad is full, but it won’t be easy. The Dominican Republic has MLB Allstars in stock, Japan has Shohei Ohtani, and now Puerto Rico can introduce a proven commodity to international baseball.

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