Matt Strahm: A Smart Gamble By The Red Sox?
Don’t let the long hair fool you. This guy can pitch… maybe? Thus far in his career, Matt Strahm is known as the guy that hasn’t gotten a haircut since 2017. After being DFA’d this offseason by the Padres, Strahm was quickly picked up after the lockout by the Red Sox.
The move raised eyebrows, of course, because Strahm is quickly recognized as the reclamation project by Chaim Bloom and the rest Boston brass. A year ago, that guy was Garrett Richards. A project that predictably failed. This time around, there is much more hope for Strahm to become this year’s version of Garrett Whitlock instead (minus the Rule 5 Draft part of it).
With Richards a year ago, it never really felt like there was a plan of action. He was never really good. The Sox just liked his spin rate and thought they could alter his pitch mix enough to get more out of him. We know now that he was a Spider Tack guy and probably wouldn’t be in the big leagues without it.
Strahm, 30, has had an up and down start to his big league career. He was a previously highly ranked prospect in the Royals farm system. He’s just never had any real consistency. Every other year the guy seems to be on track only to have an injury derail him and spiral from there. In 2021, Strahm pitched 6.2 innings to go along with an ERA of 8.10. Obviously, not great.
One trend with Strahm that can’t be denied. In years he’s asked to start, he’s not that good. In years he comes out the pen, he’s damn good. With San Diego, they never really had a plan for Strahm. They don’t have a plan in general. It’s called AJ Preller throwing shit at the wall only for them to fall short of the Dodgers again.
With Strahm in Boston, there does feel like there is a plan of action. It’s because the guy running the Red Sox can *probably* be credited with the way the game is now pitched. The Rays under Bloom were the first team to use the openers.
YOU see it as a lack of resources because they don’t have enough starting pitching. THEY see it as a reality that nobody has enough quality pitching so they have decided to tilt the score in their favor and maximize the run differential in all innings. Matt Strahm has entered the chat.
You obviously don’t want to build an entire pitching staff of bullpen arms but baseball is changing. You need as many as those multi inning guys as possible to blow gas in short spurts. It’s all about getting matchups. What pitcher can I throw out there to maximize the results against the opposing lineup in a three to six hitter span?
Strahm brings a lot to the table. He’s a five pitch guy that can pitch multiple innings from the left side while having the ability to somehow get righties out at a better level than lefties. To dumb this down, let me give you an example.
Maybe the Red Sox feel like starting Strahm one game against the Yankees lineup of Rizzo, Judge, and Gallo to open the game. Boston feels as though Strahm is tricky enough from the left side to give Rizzo and Gallo enough trouble as left handed bats to get them out in most of the simulations of how the game plays out. The Sox feel confident enough that Strahm can get righties out because he’s down so in the past.
Historically, Aaron Judge just doesn’t hit change ups. It’s who he is. Guy has a hell of a swing but for whatever reason, when those nasty change ups dip, he usually doesn’t get low enough to get there swinging way over the top because of his 6-foot-7 frame. Judge has hit .175 or lower against change ups four years in a row now… and Strahm has a pretty good change up.
Baseball is changing and guys like Strahm are now matchup problems. I get a fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, sinker from the left side. If there is any talent in Strahm, the Red Sox are going extract it because they are building an army of them.
The Red Sox already have a bunch of these guys on the roster. Whitlock and Tanner Houck are the most promising young arms of the group. This is the new Red Sox. Part of the reason why they won over 90 games a year ago with Hansel Robles killing you slowly inside at every turn. They are now just slowly adding the toys they need for this to really work long term like the Rays have built. The new look Sox are going to try to kill you one inning at a time to start the game.
Like Whitlock, we just didn’t know if the guy was healthy. Remember the reports that the Sox took Whitlock based on the videos he was posting to Instagram? Looks like they did their due dilligence here too. Strahm’s showcase this offseason was viewed positively to the point where he got a raise and may have gotten more had other teams gotten involved.
You can do more digging here but I think you get the point. I’m sure the Sox will want Strahm to pick his spots a bit more with the fastball and really activate that curveball as he did in his younger years with Kansas City.
Keep an eye out for Strahm. He’s on a one year prove it deal and the expectations should actually be reasonably high. He’s going to be an important piece to this pitching staff and will be responsible for covering a lot of innings.