The Argument for Spencer Strider

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t need a post telling us that Spencer Strider is a really good pitcher, but there might be a need for one that he’s already one of the greatest in the game. And his strengths play to everything we want in fantasy.

Shohei Ohtani tops the list of pitchers for obvious reasons, but the next nine or so are more jumbled than we might think. Taking a look at where Strider ranks among all pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched tells an important story:

  • First in FIP (1.83), as the only pitcher under 2.00.
  • First in SIERA (2.41).
  • First in xFIP (2.30).
  • First in xERA (2.39).
  • First in K/9 (13.81) by almost two full strikeouts.
  • Second in HR/9 (0.48) to the 0.41 of Jose Quintana.

Neutral flyball rate, neutral groundball rate, neutral BABIP, depressed line drive rate, high walks (but who cares?!?), and a more than acceptable 6.0% barrel rate allowed.

Strider’s ceiling isn’t somewhere in the top-eight. Strider’s ceiling is the best in baseball, even just extending him to 180 innings. Strider pitched 136.1 innings in 2022, so 180 might be conservative over 30 starts. And his per-inning brilliance can be repeatable and sticky.

What Strider’s doing is an extension of what he did in the minors with his 80-grade fastball. In 2021, Strider had 14.6 K/9 after 14.3 in his 2020 senior year of college.

There could be some chatter that his K/9 was bloated a bit by being a reliever for ~18% of this 2022 innings. What if we told those people that his 13.84 K/9 as a starter was actually greater than the 13.68 he posted as a reliever? Would they be convinced?

And then there are wins.

Strider’s not gonna win the volume argument over Corbin Burnes, Sandy Alcantara, Gerrit Cole, or Aaron Nola. He’s probably not getting 200 innings. But how many of them have a legitimate shot at 18 wins? Or even 15 wins, for that matter? Kyle Wright had 21 in 2022 for the Braves in 180.1 innings pitched, so should we set Strider’s ceiling at 20 wins?

Every time that I wanna call myself crazy for saving that Strider is worthy of a top-25 with top-10 potential, I look back to the data and the data don’t lie. It’s consistent with all of the hype with which he came up.

Alex Sonty is a professional DFS and poker player, while contributing to RotoGrinders and FanGraphs, as well as serving as a part-time political science professor in Chicago, IL. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and entered the DFS realm in 2014, currently playing high-stakes MLB and NFL cash games and GPPs. He is a Chicago Tribune and SB Nation alum, while holding a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.

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Brad Johnsonmember
1 year ago

I think if there’s a knock against Strider (besides that young pitchers are likely to sustain major injury), it’s that he succeeded mostly with an odd “look” that’s being replicated by other pitchers. Andrew Painter, for instance, has similarities to Strider and will probably debut next season. Seeing Painter might help opponents against Strider. I’m also interested to see if his playoff meltdown against the Phillies leads to scouting discoveries. I don’t really think that will happen, but it wouldn’t strike me as unusual if it did.

1 year ago
Reply to  Brad Johnson

The meltdown was probably just due to his velocity dropping by like 3mph though coming off his oblique. Looked dominant in the first two innings when his velocity was normal

Last edited 1 year ago by TimBrownU
1 year ago
Reply to  TimBrownU

Agreed. Given it was his first live pitching in over a month since his injury, Braves should have said thank you to two dominant innings from him and moved on.

1 year ago
Reply to  Brad Johnson

I don’t think is “look” is that particularly odd as he has clearly patterned his delivery off of the likes of Jacob DeGrom and Gerritt Cole. Obviously the more the league faces and familiarizes with him, the more the more the batters will benefit from that exposure, provided his pitch mix stays static. But, when your K rate can regress by a full 2.5 K/9 and still be in the elite range, I would definitely consider his health and longevity to be the greatest concerns.