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Spencer Strider: The Strikeout Artist to Rule Them All

This season, Spencer Strider is breaking records for strikeouts. He has an incredible arm with a great slider and a changeup that improves each start. How impressive is it? And will this win him the National League Cy Young Award? The sure thing is that the fans of the Atlanta Braves are watching history in the making. He’s already found himself in an elite club within a franchise known for its pitching.

Spencer Strider’s Excellent Campaign

A Historic Start

Last year, Strider’s arrival in the major leagues featured a triple-digit fastball, a glorious moustache and top-tier strikeouts. All of these became staples of the young pitcher, who put the entire league on notice after being moved to the starting rotation in May.

In only 130 innings, from 20 starts and previous relief appearances, he reached 202 Strikeouts, becoming the fastest to reach 200 in MLB history, beating the former strikeout record holder, Randy Johnson, by less than an inning.

The NL Rookie of the Year evaded him, courtesy of his teammate Michael Harris II, but everyone was excited about Spencer’s debut over the summer. In his 20 starts, he posted:

  • 2.77 ERA (11th Best in 2022 season)
  • 1.92 FIP (League-best 2022 season)
  • 13.86 Ks/9 (2nd Best in MLB History)

The numbers were out-of-this-world impressive, especially for a rookie 23-year-old. However, his lack of command raised a minor concern, as did his rather pedestrian 6-foot, 180-pound frame.

And even though the young pitcher takes supreme care of his body, a Tommy John surgery from back when he was in college, paired with the raw power he put behind his four-seamers, made him a top candidate for eventual UCL issues. But, as of right now, this season of Spencer Strider is, put, another one for the ages

2023: Picking up where he left

Strider is bound to break every single-season speed strikeout record. First, he broke the 100 strikeout record, reaching the mark in only 61 innings. Then, he broke the strikeout record again, beating his record from last year by seven innings. Where did he get that milestone strikeout against? The future $400-$500 million man Shohei Ohtani.

Finally, his K/9 is currently sitting at a mind-boggling 14.43. That is the highest of all time, beating Shane Bieber’s 14.1 from 2020 and Gerrit Cole’s 13.8 from 2019. For some perspective, all projections for this season put Strider right around the 200 strikeout range, as he currently stands at 208. The next pitcher behind him for the lead is Kevin Gausman of the Toronto Blue Jays, who currently has 177. This kind of difference can only be described as legendary.

NL Cy Young Contention

With such outstanding strikeout numbers, one could think quickly that the betting odds on Spencer Strider securing the NL Cy Young award are in the minuses. Unfortunately, this is where his 3.61 ERA does not help him that much.

Six starts between May 17 and June 14 saw him cough up 10 home runs and 23 earned runs in 32 innings. That included a nightmarish game where he allowed eight runs in five innings against the New York Mets– out of all teams. Strider already allowed 18 homers, more than double that last season, while having an ERA that’s not even close to the top ten. So, despite his legendary K/9 numbers and his FIP being only behind Gausman, Spencer is in the middle of a three-person race for the prestigious pitching award.

ERA/FIP/WHIP/Ks per 9/Record Splits:

  • Zac Gallen             3.36/ 3.15/ 1.076/ 9.4/ 10-4
  • Spencer Strider    3.61/ 2.90/ 1.087/ 14.4/ 12-3
  • Blake Snell            2.61/ 3.67/ 1.298/ 11.9/8-8

Final Thoughts

Despite having the highest ERA out of the three, his close to the best WHIP, FIP, and record out of the three should be enough to win the 24-year-old his first Cy Young Award. There’s no denying that he’s having the most outstanding season for a finesse strikeout pitcher in baseball’s history. It certainly sounds like a compelling argument.

Photo Credit: © Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Players Mentioned:

Spencer Strider, Randy Johnson, Michael Harris II, Zac Gallen, Shohei Ohtani, Blake Snell Shane Bieber, Gerrit Cole, Kevin Gausman


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