I said it last night, but I have no problem already calling Spencer Strider one of the best pitchers in baseball. He might be the best pitcher on a Braves staff that includes Max Fried — a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate and arguably the best lefty in the game. Strider can’t be touched on the mound, and his last three starts have been a perfect example of that, as he’s tossed 18 innings of one-run ball while striking out 30.
It’s been DeGrom-esque, and there’s no reason to believe it’s a fluke. Strider is only looking better with each passing start, but is it possible the Braves reel him back in a little as the season wanes?
It’s a fair question that I’ve wondered myself, and a few weeks ago, it wouldn’t even have shocked me if the Braves considered moving Strider back to the bullpen at some point to keep him fresh. The most innings he’s ever thrown in a season came last year, and it was only 94. At this rate, he will fly past that number sometime in August. Considering the way teams are so delicate with their talented arms these days, skipping some starts, moving him to a relief role, or even shutting him down completely could be on the table.
Thankfully, the Braves don’t plan on taking any of these measures. They talked about the issue on the broadcast last night while Strider continued to mow down the Cardinals lineup, striking out nine of the first eleven batters he faced. Obviously, they will monitor things and are aware of the concerns, but they also said despite Strider only throwing 94 innings last season, he pitched as a member of the taxi squad as well, so his workload was much heavier than that.
Paul Byrd, who has nearly 1,700 innings logged in the big leagues, even commented by saying he believes Strider could throw upwards of 150 innings this season and be just fine because of the way he takes care of his body.
I’m right there with Byrdy. I see no reason why Strider should be taken out of the rotation, and I’m glad the Braves aren’t seriously considering it at this point. Precautions must be taken, and the Braves will keep a close eye on him. But as long as Strider is feeling good, they shouldn’t change anything. This is a young man that is so articulate with his routine and does such a fantastic job at preparing his mind and body during the week for his starts. If anybody can handle a larger workload, it’s Spencer Strider.
The old phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is simple yet effective. As long as Strider keeps dealing like this, don’t expect the Braves to switch anything up.
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