Kansas City Royals: Matt Strahm, Starter Or Reliever?
How Strahm Put Up Those Numbers
What Strahm did to achieve this success was pretty impressive too. This year Strahm was in the top 10% among pitchers with at least 20 batted balls in lowest opponent exit velocity. He was also in the fifth of the majors in average distance on BIP, according to Baseball Savant.
And in Strahm’s limited time, he wasn’t pitching mop up innings. After being called up, he quickly settled into a setup man like role, even after the return of Wade Davis. Among 512 pitchers this year with at least 20 innings, Strahm had the 9th best FIP at 2.06. This could come into play this with Strahm being a possible setup man this year.
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This leads me into my next discussion. What will Strahm’s role be going into the future? I think he can be a starter, based of his pitches. I think he would be mid-rotation starter type if he didn’t develop his third pitch (slider), but if he did, his ceiling could be frontline starter type. Something I did find very interesting was of his most effective games with his slider, was his longest outing of the year. He pitched 2.2 innings against a dangerous Boston Red Sox lineup, allowing no hits, one walk, striking out one.
When his slider was working, it was hard to get good contact off. Strahm generated a fair amount of grounders and pop ups in that game. I went to go look why his slider was working so well. According to Brooks Baseball, he generated more spin, a couple more inches in vertical movement, and had a higher release speed with his sider. It’s a very small sample size, but that pitch is the key to him starting.