Even with a promotion to a higher level, lefty Matt Strahm continues to baffle hitters. The South Atlantic League All-Star (though he did not participate due to his promotion), made his third appearance with High-A Wilmington on Friday night in the second game of their doubleheader. In the start, he allowed one run on two hits over five innings. Strahm walked one and struck out nine, including the first three batters of the game and five of the first six.
In that first inning when he struck out the side, he threw just 11 pitches and all were strikes. Strahm threw his first ball to Spencer Kieboom to leadoff the 2nd inning (Kieboom singled on the very next pitch). Strahm then struck out the next two batters on seven pitches (all strikes) and Kieboom was thrown out by Blue Rocks catcher Santiago Nessy trying to steal second base to end the inning.
I was interested to see how the Potomac batters would adjust the second time through the order, but they never looked comfortable in the box. Only the two hits were hit hard off Strahm.
In the three appearances with the Blue Rocks (totaling 12 innings), he has struck out 20. Opponents have just four hits off him.
Don’t tell Strahm that Frawley Stadium is a pitcher’s ballpark though: he has allowed two solo home runs. “All of the guys keep telling me that they don’t hit them here but not according to me I guess,” Strahm said after the game.
One of the two hits Strahm allowed on Friday night was a home run into the left field bullpen to lead off the 3rd inning. He calmly then struck out the next batter.
Prior to his promotion, Strahm was dominating the opposition at Low-A Lexington. He had allowed just one earned run over his last 16.2 innings (seven appearances). Over that same time frame, he had allowed three hits and walked five while striking out 26, including nine of the ten batters he faced on May 27th.
So what is his secret to all the strikeouts? “Getting swings and misses has been nice. Some of the catchers tell me it’s the arm slot I throw from, lower 3/4. I’m just out there being me.”
Not bad for a guy who missed the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery and only pitched in 19.2 innings with Idaho Falls in 2014. The former college starter made just his second professional start on Friday night (the first was with the Chukars as he returned from TJS) and he has been adjusting to becoming a reliever.
If Strahm continues to rack up the strikeouts with his fastball/breaking ball mix (and if he can work in the changeup), he could be a sleeper to help the Royals bullpen in September.
*You can watch the entire interview below: