The Braves are getting it done in every facet of the game and are the hottest team in baseball. While things have slowed down a little bit in the last two games against the Cubs, Atlanta is still fresh off a franchise-record-tying 14-game win streak. They’re belting the long ball, leading the NL in team homers and trailing only the Yankees across all of baseball. The team’s defense has improved tremendously after the decision to bring Michael Harris up to play center field. Adam Duvall moved over to left, which took the mind-numbingly bad defense from Marcell Ozuna off the table. It’s not only improved the defense, but Duvall and Ozuna have caught fire during this winning streak. That’s not even mentioning what the rookie from Stockbridge has done at the plate, or the regular contributions from Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, and the backstop duo of Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras.
It’s all coming together for the good guys. They’re led by a stout rotation in All-Star hopefuls Max Fried and Kyle Wright. Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson have been up and down to begin the year, but Braves Country shouldn’t be too concerned with their struggles. Morton looked to be in peak form during his 7 shutout innings in Friday’s game against the Cubs, and unfortunately, Anderson will always struggle the third time through the order without a consistent third offering. However, the surprise of the starting rotation and a massive reason the Braves are winning is Spencer Strider.
The Braves’ Huckleberry deserves serious consideration for Rookie of the Year. Strider absolutely dominated out of the bullpen, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. His 100 mph heat and wipeout slider are making Major Leaguers look like little leaguers. Over 24.1 innings in a relief role, Strider boasted a 2.22 ERA, and his 1.45 FIP suggests he was a bit unlucky. Over that same stretch, he only allowed batters to hit for a .167 average, striking out 37 of them.
Then, he switched roles and joined the rotation, which has just been more of the same. Most recently, the righty racked up 11 Ks over 5.2 innings of one-hit, two-run ball on Wednesday against the Nationals, throwing a career-high 106 pitches to help the Braves win their 14th straight game. In four starts, Strider has a smooth 2.75 ERA over 19.2 innings with 31 strikeouts while allowing opposing batters to hit a measly .155 average.
On the year, Strider has a 2.45 ERA with a 13.9 K/9 in 44 innings, holding batters to a .161 average — the third-lowest among MLB pitchers who have faced at least 150 batters in 2022. It’s about time Spencer Strider enters the conversation alongside MacKenzie Gore for NL Rookie of the Year.
Gore has been lights-out for much of the season; however, he was roughed up last Saturday, allowing six runs in 2.1 innings against the Rockies. On the year, Gore boasts an impressive 2.50 ERA (worse than Strider’s) over 50.1 innings pitched, along with 10.7 K/9 (worse than Strider). His 1.6 WAR is about the only statistic in which the Padres’ rookie has a leg up on Strider, who has earned 1.3 WAR.
At this point, it’s a toss-up and the edge probably goes to Gore, but there should at least be more noise made for Strider in the race for NL Rookie of the Year.
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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