Spencer Strider kicked off his 2023 NL Cy Young campaign in style on Saturday afternoon, dominating the Washington Nationals from start to finish. He tossed six innings of scoreless ball, striking out nine, and at no point did it even look as if he broke a sweat.
Strider’s fastball velocity was even a little down yesterday. He didn’t touch 100 MPH once, but his control with the pitch is what made it so effective, and his slider kept the Nationals off balance most of the afternoon.
However, around the fifth inning, Strider did something that should have every future opponent shaking their head. He started mixing in a third offering consistently — a deadly changeup. Once that occurred, every Nationals player that stepped into the batter’s box went from discouraged to hopeless. Here’s Strider’s final strikeout of the game.
Spencer Strider was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game last year as a rookie, and he did so with just two pitches. There were tiny concerns from a few about whether or not he would be able to sustain that success with only a fastball and slider. But if those weren’t put to bed yesterday, they will be soon if Strider continues to throw his changeup with the consistency that he flashed against the Nationals.
Strider developing a trustworthy third offering was always the next step in his development. I’m not sure if he needed a changeup to have a prominent major-league career, but adding one to his repertoire makes him nearly unhittable. There won’t just be one NL Cy Young in this young man’s future, there will be multiple.
Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire
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