The KC Royals placing closer Wade Davis on the DL is a total bummer, but Matt Strahm might be pretty fun to watch
The Kansas City Royals can’t seem to ditch the injury bug/World Series hangover in 2016, with Wade Davis headed for his second DL stint in as many weeks.With Luke Hochevar also on the DL, the KC Royals had to go even deeper into their metaphorical armory of arms, bringing up 24-year old left-hander Matt Strahm.
As it happens, I was going to write a prospect profile on Strahm this week after seeing him pitch in person for Double-A Northwest Arkansas during their trip to Springfield.
It’s all in the timing, I guess.
Strahm got some attention in Spring Training with the Kansas City Royals because of his interesting story, and has had prospect divers like myself excited to see him for some time. As Rustin Dodd notes in the above linked article, Strahm came out of high school with a fastball in the high-70’s and an offer to play for a small NAIA school.
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For reference, that was the same skill set and college offer sheet that I had coming out of high school. Six years and change later, he jogged out from the bullpen at Hammons Field to pitch the sixth inning a Friday night game against the Cardinals Double-A affiliate in Springfield.
His fastball topped out at 99 and rested in the 96-98 range this spring for the KC Royals, as he struck out the side in his first inning of work. Two of those three strikeouts being on fastballs. He also worked a clean 7th inning, posing a final line of 2.0 IP with three strikeouts and no runs given up.
That was the good.
The bad was that the radar gun that had him top out at 99 was the same hot gun that had Medlen hit 96 for, quite literally, the first time in his career. Strahm also hit two Cardinals in the head in his two innings of work, one of which being Nick Martini, who took a fastball to the helmet in the bottom of the 7th and had to leave the game.
On the season, Strahm has posted a 3.48 ERA at NWA in 22 games, 18 of which are starts, while striking out 107 over 102.1 innings. Over that span he has walked just 23 batters.
Here is what Fangraphs had to say about Strahm in their pre-season KC Royals prospect breakdown.
"He [Strahm] commands his fastball down in the zone well, and his present average curveball gives hitters a very hard time making contact,” Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs said.His future grades are not higher currently because of some mechanical issues he has to work out, notably his arm action that gets a little stiff at times. If it’s just a remnant of his elbow injury and continues to improve, he’s another candidate to jump up into the top end of this list. A solid bullpen role is not out of the question if he can’t continue to make adjustments."
Although he is making the jump to the Kansas City Royals straight from Double-A, he has arguably been major league ready since the spring. He already has two major league average pitcher his fastball and curveball, and that fastball will look even better with him coming out of the bullpen.
Strahm should be a legitimate option for the KC Royals rotation in 2017 and beyond,