The Atlanta Braves are looking to become the first team since the New York Yankees in the late 1990's to win back-to-back World Series titles. Despite losing Freddie Freeman to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason, the Braves are significantly better this season. A lot of that has to do with their rookies, including starting pitcher Spencer Strider.
On Thursday night, Strider showcased how talented he really is. He struck out 16 batters in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. That broke a franchise record (in Atlanta) set by Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz. Smoltz previously struck out 15 twice with the Braves.
After the game, Braves third baseman Austin Riley talked about Strider's performance, as captured by The Athletic.
“He was beyond electric tonight… It was fun to play behind him, I tell you that. The confidence he has when he goes out there — he’s on the attack, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Riley said of Strider.
Spencer Strider threw only fastballs and sliders, yet still dominated the Rockies lineup. His fastball topped off just over 100 miles per hour and hit at least 99 mph 19 times during his outing Thursday.
The Braves starter has been a huge surprise this season. With the win, Strider improved to 9-4 with a sparkling 2.67 ERA with a strong 0.98 WHIP. Strider is also among the major league leaders in strikeouts with 174. The big difference is he has done that while tossing just 114 2/3 innings. His performance this year has made him the favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.
Incidentally, the only other player close to him for the award is his teammate, Michael Harris II.