Atlanta Braves rookie Spencer Strider lasted just 4.2 innings against the New York Mets on Tuesday night, but in that short time, he struck out eight batters in the latest strong performance from the potential National League Rookie of the Year.
FanDuel Sportsbook lists Strider as the +200 favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year in 2022, now ahead of other top contenders including Michael Harris (+320) and Oneil Cruz (+550).
Strider makes history in back-to-back outings
Strider is 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA on the year. After punching out eight Mets in Atlanta’s 4-1 win over New York, he’s accumulated 110 strikeouts in just 70.1 innings.
The Braves starter made history in his two previous appearances. After striking out 12 batters and giving up just two hits over six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals last Thursday, he became the first rookie since 1900 to strike out 11 or more batters while allowing two or fewer hits in consecutive starts. Only three other pitchers in the past 30 years struck out more batters over their first eight career starts.
Strider recorded strikeouts for each of his first nine outs on Thursday, the first time a Braves pitcher has done that since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966.
“It’s cool. A lot of good pitchers have pitched for Atlanta,” Strider told reporters. “I wish we would’ve pulled out the win as well, but it’s cool.”
The 23-year-old is riding his fastball into Rookie of the Year contention. Strider throws his heater about 70% of the time, a higher rate than any other starter who’s thrown significant innings this year. While most pitchers are utilizing breaking balls far more often, Strider is willing to go with his fastball constantly. It’s effective, in large part, because he regularly hits 100 mph on the radar gun, creating a challenge for any hitter.
Harris gives Braves second Rookie of the Year candidate
The plans of the Braves’ front office could potentially hurt Strider’s Rookie of the Year candidacy. If the team chooses to limit his innings – a common tactic with young pitchers who haven’t thrown complete seasons in the majors yet – then his numbers might not be overwhelming at the end of the season. However, there’s no sign yet that Atlanta will shut Strider down, or even move him back to the bullpen.
|NL Rookie of the Year Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Spencer Strider: +200||Michael Harris: +320|
|Oneil Cruz: +550||Seiya Suzuki: +1200|
|Nolan Gorman: +1600||MacKenzie Gore: +1700|
|Juan Yepez: +2000||Brendan Donovan: +2000|
|Jack Suwinski: +2400||Christopher Morel: +2400|
Strider will face competition for Rookie of the Year from teammate Michael Harris. The 21-year-old centerfielder has excelled at the plate, hitting .294 with seven homers and a .835 OPS over 42 games. He’s also flashed speed on the basepaths, stealing seven bases and legging out two triples already this year.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz remains in the race despite hitting just .213 in 20 games and starting the season in the minors. Japanese import Seiya Suzuki (+1200) has fallen off the pace a bit, though he’s put up solid numbers for the Cubs this year. Suzuki is hitting .256 with an .812 OPS and six homers for Chicago.