Braves: Spencer Strider comments on down velocity

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Watching Spencer Strider‘s first three starts, one noticeable aspect has been the velocity dip. It’s almost ridiculous to say because he’s still averaging 97.1 MPH on his fastball, but that is more than a full MPH lower than it was a season ago, which had many Braves fans wondering if there was something bothering him.

Now, it’s not uncommon for a pitcher’s velocity to be down a bit in April. It takes some guys a couple of months to hit their full stride, especially starters. However, Strider admitted after his start on Tuesday night that he’s been holding back a bit early in hopes of going deeper into games.

“I think some of what I’ve been struggling with is that I’ve been trying to pace myself and worry about going deep in the game and being economical,” Strider said, via David O’Brien of The Athletic. “That’s not what I do. What will allow me to do those things is competing with my strengths, and that’s throwing with full intensity and being fully engaged and aware every pitch. I haven’t been doing that, so that’s my fault.”

I understand the premise of what Strider may have been thinking, but in the long run, making yourself more vulnerable on the mound by toning things down isn’t going to result in longer appearances. Strider is a prototypical strikeout pitcher, which makes it easy for his pitch count to rise quickly. Being more efficient is something he’ll just have to learn over time, but beginning outings on cruise control isn’t going to help.

That’s what Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz came out to remind Strider after some shaky moments last night.

“I feel like I sort of put the team in a bad spot,” Strider said, via David O’Brien of The Athletic. “You’ve got to credit them for picking me up and finding a way to win the game. I’ve got to get better. It’s early, there’s a lot of time to do that, but I’m certainly not pleased with my performance. And I give credit to Kranny for coming out there and saying some things to me that I won’t repeat. … That’s the mark of a good coach is knowing when to light the fire, and he definitely does.”

Whatever Kranitz said to Strider, it worked. His best work came over the final two innings, and he struck out the last batter faced with his fastest pitch of the season, which was right at 100 MPH.

When it comes to the Braves concerns, Strider is the least of them. As long as he’s healthy, it’s just a matter of time before he’s looking like a Cy Young candidate again. Hell, even though he hasn’t been his best, Strider is still 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and a ridiculous 15.2 K/9. This is one of the most special talents the organization has ever had, and I expect him to start pitching more like it as the season continues.


Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire

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