The era of the ‘strike-out artist’ ATL Strider is coming

 The major leagues are the era of strikeouts. Strikeouts increased significantly as pitchers’ velocity increased, various breaking balls, and bullpen baseball became active. Here, hitters responded with an ‘all or nothing’ style home run swing, gaining even more momentum.

In fact, the number of strikeouts per nine innings in the league has increased for 17 consecutive years from 2005 to 2021. Excluding 9.07 in 2020, which was a shortened season, 8.9 in 2021 is the most in a single season. The upward curve that soared without knowing the end came down slightly last year. However, 8.53 in 2022 is also tied for third in a single season with 2018 (2nd place with 8.88 in 2019). He is currently striking out 8.7 this season.메이저사이트

In the era of strikeouts, there is a pitcher armed with strikeouts. Atlanta Braves right-hander Spencer Strider. Strider, who made his full-fledged debut last year, has 13.88 strikeouts per 9 innings over the past two years. It is an overwhelming first place among 80 pitchers who threw 140 or more innings during the same period.

13.88 – Spencer Strider
11.98 – Shohei Ohtani
11.98 – Carlos Rodon
11.66 – Gerrit Cole

Strider was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. The draft that year was reduced to only 5 rounds in the aftermath of Corona 19. Atlanta picked three pitchers, one of whom was a Strider. Strider, who did not receive much attention during the draft, went through four minor league levels at high speed the following year and came up to the major leagues. It was very unusual for him to experience 5 levels in one season.

Atlanta, which confirmed Strider’s potential, did not waste time. Strider was included in the roster for the Opening Day last year. Strider’s role was as a bullpen or sixth starter.

Atlanta didn’t use Strider as a one-inning bullpen. He was entrusted with multiple innings and prepared to switch to starting at any time. Strider showed off a terrifying pitch with 37 strikeouts in 24⅓ innings in 11 bullpen games. And he put up a challenge for the confusing 5th starter spot. Strider, who made his first start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 30, reported his first win in a match against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 11 with 5⅔ innings, 8 strikeouts and no runs. It was the start of a run.

Opponent batters couldn’t wake up to Strider’s explosive pitch. The highlight was against the Colorado Rockies on September 2nd. On this day, Strider achieved 8 innings, 16 strikeouts, and no run pitching. It was the most strikeouts in a game by an Atlanta pitcher in regular innings (Warren Spahn struck out 18 in 15 innings in 1952). Even Strider didn’t give up a single walk. Strider was the fifth major league rookie pitcher to sweep 16 strikeouts without a walk, following Dwyton Gooden (twice in 1984), Kerry Wood in 1998, and John Gray in 2016. Among them, only Wood recorded 20 strikeouts, more than Strider.

Strider is a two-pitch pitcher. He can throw a changeup, but his four-seam fastball and slider are more than 95 percent combined. His best ball is his four-seam. His four-seam average velocity of 98.2 mph last year is the number one starter (more than 130 innings), surpassing Sandy Alcantara (98 mph). The proportion of four-seams, 67%, was also higher than that of Carlos Rodon (61.2%). He was a pitcher of the four-seam, by the four-seam, for the four-seam.

No matter how powerful a four-seam he is, he can’t knock out a major league hitter by throwing only four-seams. Strider’s four-seam’s best friend was the slider. The sharp-sticking slider had a miss rate of 52.2%. Among starting pitchers with more than 100 at-bats with the slider, he had the second highest miss rate. The only pitcher who surpassed the Strider Slider’s miss rate was Jacob deGrom (53.8%).

On September 19th, Strider made another strikeout history. He broke the 200 strikeout mark in 130 innings of the season. This is the minimum 200 strikeouts in a single season, and the player the Strider pushed back was Randy Johnson in 2001. At the time, it took Johnson 130⅔ innings to strike out 200 (Gerrit Cole struck out 200 in 133⅓ innings in 2019).

It was the injury that stopped the Strider, who was running without hesitation. Strider stopped collecting strikeouts after suffering a left flank injury. However, Atlanta could not exclude Strider, who has been reborn as the mainstay of the starting lineup, from the postseason roster. Strider had a comeback from injury in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, but bowed his head with five runs in 2⅓ innings.

Strider, who had mixed joys and sorrows in the regular season and postseason, finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting (11 wins, 5 losses, 2.67 ERA, 131⅔ innings, 202 strikeouts). First place was colleague Michael Harris II. Harris brought 22 first place votes and Strider 8. If the Striders had met the regulation innings, the outcome might have been different. Meanwhile, it was the first time since 2011 that teammates shared 1st and 2nd place in the Rookie of the Year voting. The 2011 team was also Atlanta (No. 1 Craig Kimbrel, No. 2 Freddie Freeman).

Most strikeouts by a rookie since the live-ball era

276 – Dwight Gooden (1984)
245 – Herb Score (1955)
236 – Hideo Nomo (1995)
233 – Kerry Wood (1998)
221 – Darvish Yu (2012)

Strider, who was busy with baseball, distanced himself from the offseason sport for a while. He supports the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, but rarely watches their games. He soothed his weary body and mind by pursuing hobbies other than sports, and in November, he married his girlfriend from high school. When a new page in his baseball career began, a new chapter in his life also opened.

Strider’s love for strikeouts continues this year as well. He added nine in each of his first and second appearances, striking out 18 in 11 innings. Currently, it ranks first in the National League (Logan Webb 16).

Strider’s goal this season, which has proven his ability to strike out, is to enter the regular innings. Fireballers who throw the ball hard are inevitably concerned about injuries. Strider, who is 183 cm tall and is an undersized pitcher, is not free from this gaze. Strikeouts are pleasing to the eye, but when the durability is low, they tend to disappear from the eye. Strider is also well aware of the worries around him.

Another concern of Strider is the third pitch. For him to meet regulation innings, he has to be healthy as well as an innings eater. Strider has four-seam and slider as plus pitches, but it is easier to digest longer innings only when he expands his repertoire through a changeup. Strider has stated that “I don’t want to throw pitches that can’t handle the count”, but developing a changeup is an unavoidable task for stability and long run.

The appearance of the most suitable pitcher in the age of strikeouts. The strikeout ability that Strider showed off last year was obviously on a different level. If you are curious about where the new world of strikeouts will be, you must not miss Strider’s pitching.

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