Strider breaks his own record, fastest to 200 K's again

Snitker, after righty reaches mark in 123 1/3 IP: 'I've been impressed since the first day I saw him'

August 2nd, 2023

ATLANTA -- A little more than 14 months since making his first career start, Spencer Strider has already twice secured a 200-strikeout season quicker than anybody else in MLB history.

Strider broke his own record as he surpassed the 200-strikeout mark while helping the Braves claim a 5-1 win over the Angels on Tuesday night at Truist Park. His historic outing was backed by Michael Harris II’s second multihomer game of the season.

“I don't know why, but I feel like every time Strider pitches, I do something to back him,” Harris said. “I guess that’s the way we’ve always been. Even last year, it was like some kind of competition, even if you didn’t notice. But every time he pitched, he’d go out and have a berserk night and I’d hit a home run or have some kind of big hit.”

Harris and Strider will always be linked for the tremendous contributions they made before finishing first and second, respectively, in balloting for last year’s National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Strider etched his name in another portion of the record book when he got Shohei Ohtani to swing and miss an 0-2 changeup in the first inning. It was his 200th strikeout, and it was notched in just 123 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old hurler set the most recent MLB record last year, when he needed just 130 innings to record 200 strikeouts.

“He’s been very impressive since he got here,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was great to see how he handled things last year and just how he picked right back up this year. I’ve been impressed since the first day I saw him.”

Securing this record against Ohtani made it even more special, right?

“He's a hitter, just like anybody else,” Strider said. “Anybody can get you at any time. No disrespect to him. I give every hitter the credit of being able to get a hit at any moment. Everybody I face is with the intent to limit damage and get them out.”

Strider has an incredible arm, a great slider and an improving changeup. But one of his greatest assets is the unflappable confidence he has shown since becoming a mainstay in Atlanta last year. He began 2022 as a reliever, became a starter by the end of May and has already found himself in an elite club within a pitching-rich franchise.

Having reached this milestone yet again, Strider joins John Smoltz (five times), Phil Niekro (three times) and Charlie Morton (twice) as the only Braves pitchers in modern history to record multiple 200-strikeout seasons.

Or maybe it’s more impressive that he is now one of five pitchers since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 to collect at least 200 strikeouts in his first two full Major League seasons. The others to do this were Yu Darvish, Hideo Nomo, Dwight Gooden and Herb Score.

“It’s neat,” Strider said. “The goal is to just win games. I mean, you know, that kind of stuff is neat. But you know, breaking records is not always a formula to winning games.”

In the process of becoming baseball’s current strikeout king, Strider has proven highly effective. The Braves have won 18 of the 22 games he has started this year.

Strider limited the Angels to one run while striking out nine over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out Ohtani in both the first and third innings before surrendering an infield single to him in the sixth. Strider’s bid for a fifth consecutive double-digit strikeout total ended when he hit Zach Neto with a pitch. This prompted the entry of Joe Jiménez, who stranded two by inducing a groundout.

Along with celebrating Strider’s strikeout fests, Braves fans have also been able to enjoy an abundance of power this year. Harris reached the double-digit homer total in the fifth and then tallied his 11th homer in the seventh.

The Braves now have nine players who have hit at least 10 homers. This matches the franchise record tallied by the 2007, ‘18, ‘19 and ‘22 clubs. Travis d’Arnaud needs just one more homer to join this group.

“It’s the key to our success -- everybody contributing -- and they have to a man,” Snitker said. “This lineup is really deep and it’s powerful.”