The Emergence of Matt Strahm

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The Kansas City Royals bullpen was once the cornerstone of a team that made back-to-back World Series appearances, winning it all in 2015. Unfortunately, that lights out dominance just hasn’t carried over into the summer of the 2016 season. In Tuesday night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, reliever Kelvin Herrera surrendered a three-run home run to Todd Frazier in the 10th inning and the Royals wound up losing; a recurring theme this season that Royals’ fans are far from used to.

The Emergence of Matt Strahm

The Bullpen Needs a Hero

Although the bullpen has been a complete let down this season, one man has begun to emerge as a beacon of hope among the disparity of relievers: Rookie Matt Strahm. Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals Manager Vance Wilson called the former Neosho County Community College pitcher to inform him to pack his bags because he was headed for Arlington, Texas to join the Kansas City Royals on July 31. The move was made after the Royals placed Wade Davis on the disabled list with forearm troubles. Strahm replaced starter Dillon Gee in the seventh inning of a 5-3 loss to Texas. In a 1/3 of an inning, he struck out one, walked one, gave up one hit and an earned run.

The left-hander is just 24 years old. He’s played in just four games at the Major League level and hasn’t spent two full weeks with the club since his callup. However, he exudes a lot of confidence for his age. Although Strahm conceded a run in his first outing, he’s been close to flawless ever since. In Tampa Bay, he came in with one out and two runners on base and got the Royals out of the jam with two strikeouts, helping to preserve a 3-2 win. In his two-inning stint against the White Sox, he struck out five of the seven batters he faced.

“He throws the ball with conviction,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore told the Chanute Tribune. “That’s something you want to see in all your pitchers, especially your young pitchers.”

Majoring in the Minors

Strahm was listed as the No. 4 prospect in the Royals’ organization on MLB.com. He’s put up a 3.43 ERA with 107 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings. Prior to his call up to the majors, Strahm ranked second in the Texas League in strikeouts and ranked fifth among qualified starters. He began the season as a starter in Northwest Arkansas, but was relocated to the bullpen to potentially help the Royals. Counting the minors, Strahm has already thrown more innings this season than in any other.

What’s Next for Strahm?

In 2015, Strahm only threw 94 innings, and Moore stressed the importance of keeping an eye on the number of innings he pitches this year in an effort to protect his arm for future years. With the lack of starting depth within the organization, Dayton Moore certainly did not rule out the possibility of Strahm working his way back into the rotation as early as this fall. There may be a bright future for him in Kansas City, but for now, Strahm is grateful for the opportunity and is willing to take on whatever situation is put in front of him.

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