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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman tore his ACL during a routine pitchers’ fielding drill. After viewing the results of an MRI, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Stroman would probably miss the entire season.Tommy Gilligan

At first it was passed off as a flight of fancy from an exuberant young pitcher trying to come to grips with what was, by all accounts, a season-ending knee injury.

All accounts, that is, except the one that mattered most to Marcus Stroman – his own.

As the Toronto Blue Jays head into the final five weeks of the 2015 season, they have established themselves as a serious playoff contender for the first time since 1993.

And it appears more and more likely that their 24-year-old wunderkind will be there to lend a helping hand at this crucial juncture for the American League club.

Stroman's rapid recovery from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, which required surgical repair in March and was felt to be season-ending, has been impressive.

Maybe not so much to Stroman, who made like Arnold Schwarzenegger following his injury when he proclaimed, "I'll be back."

And it appears he might be right.

"The way it's going now, he might come up and start for us, get in a start or two and see how he's doing," Toronto manager John Gibbons revealed on Friday, speaking about Stroman.

Stroman passed another hurdle earlier in the day at the Blue Jays' training facility in Dunedin, Fla., when he pitched a second simulated game.

The right-hander, 11-6 in his rookie campaign last season, who was being counted on to be a rotation mainstay in 2015, threw 51 pitches in his faux outing.

It was enough to prove to the organization that Stroman is ready for his next challenge – pitching in a real game.

That will come on Wednesday in Lansing, Mich., where Stroman will pitch in his first game since his injury for the Lugnuts, Toronto's Single-A affiliate.

"Crushed it," Stroman tweeted with typical unbridled optimism following his simulated workout on Friday. "On to the next one. Who's going to be in Lansing, MI on Wednesday!?"

Should that go well, Stroman will progress to Triple-A to pitch for the Buffalo Bisons on Sept. 7.

If there are no setbacks, he will move on up to the Blue Jays, for which Gibbons said he will likely be used as a spot starter to ensure the rest of the rotation remains well rested.

The city of Toronto has been electrified by the Blue Jays' seemingly magical play. Another large and exuberant crowd was on hand Friday night at Rogers Centre as the Blue Jays started a weekend series against the Detroit Tigers, the beginning of a nine-game homestand.

The Blue Jays started the day in first place in the AL East, 11/2 games over the New York Yankees.

The news Stroman might be returning just in time to assist in the Blue Jays' postseason push will only further ramp up the expectations of the fans.

Gibbons said he would not hesitate to give Stroman a start in September, when the games will take on added meaning with the postseason looming closer.

"If he proves he's ready, he's a priority around here," Gibbons said. "He was really coming in to be our No. 1 guy this year at the beginning of the season before he got hurt.

"But I think you've still got to keep in mind, it's really been a year since he's faced hitters in the big leagues. Even though he's healthy, it's not that easy."

But then again, Gibbons said nothing would surprise him about Stroman.

"Shoot, he might end up being a difference maker down the stretch when we need it," Gibbons said.