Matt Strahm Has Reached a Whole New Level for the Phillies

Can a player have two breakout seasons in a row? Matt Strahm is certainly making that case in his second campaign with Philadelphia.

Matt Strahm #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at loanDepot Park.
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 12: Matt Strahm #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at loanDepot park on May 12, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Nearly 600 players have thrown a pitch in Major League Baseball this season. None has a higher strikeout-to-walk ratio than Philadelphia Phillies southpaw Matt Strahm.

In 19 innings of work, Strahm has racked up 30 strikeouts. More than 40% of the batters he’s faced have walked back to the dugout with their heads hung low in shame; his 42.9% K-rate ranks third among qualified MLB relievers.

Even more impressive, Strahm has only walked one batter, and he hasn’t issued a single hit-by-pitch. His 30:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is easily the best in baseball; the next-best pitcher, Daniel Hudson, has recorded just 22 strikeouts to one walk. That’s kids’ stuff.

There’s more to pitching than walks and strikeouts, but still, this should give you a pretty good idea of just how dominant Strahm has become.

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Oh, and did I mention he hasn’t given up a run in his last 18 games?

Matt Strahm Has Found Another Gear

In his age-32 season, Strahm is doing everything right. Out of 88 qualified NL relievers, he ranks among the top ten in ERA, xERA, and WHIP. He leads the pack in FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and FanGraphs WAR. He has yet to allow a home run.

When he has the platoon advantage, the left-handed Strahm has been baffling same-handed hitters with a new-and-improved sweeping slider. Meanwhile, he’s been pummelling right-handed hitters with four-seam fastballs at the top of the zone.

Ultimately, whether he’s getting lefties to chase outside or challenging righties with high heat, Strahm has been placing his pitches perfectly – and location has been the key to his success.

Both pitching modeling systems available at FanGraphs (PitchingBot and Pitching+) agree that Strahm has significantly improved his pitch location this season. Indeed, they actually suggest his “stuff” has gotten worse, but his location is so much better that it’s more than making up the difference.

PitchingBot thinks Strahm deserves a 2.12 ERA. Pitching+ suggests his arsenal has been 12% better than league average. According to both metrics, he’s one of the top 10 qualified relievers in baseball.

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A Breakout On Top of a Breakout

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 23: Matt Strahm #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait during media day at BayCare Ballpark on February 23, 2023 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Matt Strahm was a great reliever last year, too. After an unexpected (and heroic) month of success out of the starting rotation, he turned in a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings from May 7 through the end of the season. He also made seven scoreless appearances in the postseason for good measure.

Without a doubt, 2023 was a breakout campaign for the former top prospect. Strahm had struggled to find consistent success over his first seven seasons in the major leagues. The Phillies took a leap of faith and offered him a two-year contract, and he repaid them with the best performance of his career.

Yet here we are in 2024, and Strahm is breaking out all over again.

There is no question that he has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the first several weeks of the season. It’s also pretty clear that this is more than a fluke; Strahm has earned his success. That doesn’t mean he’ll maintain his sub-1.00 ERA, but his ERA could triple and he’d still rank among the top relievers in the game.

It’s hard to argue with numbers like that.

Strahm Deserves Your Attention

Mason Miller of the Oakland Athletics has taken most of the attention so far as the breakout reliever of the year – and deservedly so. The young closer throws triple digits on the regular and strikes out more than half the batters he meets. He’s angling to become the first reliever to win AL Rookie of the Year since Neftalí Feliz in 2010.

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Meanwhile, Reed Garrett of the Mets has gotten most of the fanfare in the National League. He seemingly appeared out of nowhere at 31 years old and currently leads all relievers with 41 strikeouts in 17 games.

However, Matt Strahm deserves just as much credit for his remarkable breakout season. It may not make for quite as compelling of a headline – “32-Year-Old Reliever Goes From Good to Great!” – but just watch Strahm pitch, and you’ll quickly discover how compelling he truly is.