5 Braves Bold Predictions: The year of Spencer Strider

9532204070868 atl v cin

Next Thursday, the Braves will stroll into Citizens Bank Ballpark to take on the Philadelphia Phillies, which, coincidently, is where both the Braves and Phillies seasons ended last year. For the second consecutive year, the Braves were ousted in Philly at the hands of their division rivals. But this time, the Phillies couldn’t get back to the World Series, blowing a 3-2 lead in the NLCS to the pesky Arizona Diamondbacks, dropping the final two games at home.

Both teams have high hopes once again this year, and both teams feature prominent aces at the top of their pitching staffs. On Opening Day, it will be Spencer Strider vs. Zack Wheeler toeing the rubber — best vs. best — which makes it a fitting way to begin this year’s bold prediction series for the Braves.

The New King Of Pitchers

Most who pay close attention to the game — particularly pitching — recognize Spencer Strider as the single most dominant right-handed pitcher in the league, the best stuff since Jacob deGrom. The way he’s begun his MLB career has been nothing short of sensational.

In 2022, the only reason he didn’t win the Rookie of the Year award is because his teammate, Michael Harris II, robbed it from him. Strider pitched to the tune of a 2.67 ERA with a 13.8 K/9 and 1.83 FIP over 131.2 innings. He became the fastest player ever to 200 career strikeouts, breaking a record previously held by Randy Johnson, the first of many records Strider has already broken through his first two seasons.

Last year, Strider dealt with some unexpected bumps in the road. Despite looking mostly like his typical unhittable self, there were times where he fell apart, generally over an inning or two. There was an 11 start stretch during the summer months where his ERA sat north of 5.00. Without that, he wins the NL Cy Young running away in his first full season.

It was odd to see a pitcher with so much talent and confidence suddenly seem vulnerable. But Strider would finish the year strong, including two more than solid outings in the postseason against the Philadelphia Phillies, even if they didn’t result in wins.

But really good isn’t good enough for Spencer Strider. He’s a well-known perfectionist, and the talk of Spring Training has been his new curveball, adding another tool to a repertoire that could now feature four prominent offerings.

Nobody should put too much weight into anything that happens during Spring Training. This is the time for pitchers to test things out. Who knows how often Strider will turn to the curveball during the actual season, but it’s difficult to argue with the results. Through 18.2 innings, he’s yet to allow a run with 29 strikeouts (14.0 K/9). Whatever Strider’s doing, it’s working, as he appears poised to cement himself as the best starting pitcher in baseball.

The best way to do that? Win the NL Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA.

Spencer Strider won 20 games a year ago, the most in baseball. Wins aren’t the most accurate stat to depict the effectiveness of a pitcher, but they should favor the Braves’ arms, who have the best offense in baseball playing behind them. Strikeouts are a given as long as Strider is able to make his full allotment of starts, and since this is a bold prediction piece, I’ll go out on a limb and say he joins the exclusive 300-K club, which has only been reached by five pitchers in the last 20 years, one of whom happens to be his teammate (Chris Sale, 2017).

ERA will undoubtedly be the most difficult leg of the triple crown to achieve. There are so many talented pitchers that have the ability to go low in any given season, but Spencer Strider is due for some positive regression. Despite posting a 3.86 ERA last year, he led the league in FIP with a 2.85, and his FIP in 2022 was a full run lower at 1.83.

With a few more breaks falling his way, some more maturity on the mound, and an expanding repertoire — 2024 is going to be the year of Spencer Strider, as he captures the NL Triple Crown and his first NL Cy Young award.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: