Rocket arm, Seinfeld humor define this Brave

Strider brings blazing fastball and quick wit to Atlanta's clubhouse

June 9th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman's Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Along with having a rocket arm that spits out 100 mph fastballs,  has a witty sense of humor that has regularly made many of his Braves teammates laugh throughout this season.

“He’s a big 'Seinfeld' fan,” Braves starter Ian Anderson said. “He can do characters and stuff like that. He’s always got something funny coming out of his mouth. It’s kind of sneaky. I don’t know if I was ready for that.”

Strider was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft and didn’t play an actual Minor League game until last year. Yet, here he is, two years removed from his days at Clemson, serving as one of the most important pieces on the reigning World Series champions’ pitching staff.

Strider spent most of this season’s first couple of months capably filling different relief roles. Over the past week, he has brought some much-needed stability to the rotation’s fifth spot. Along the way, the Knoxville, Tenn., native has quickly found comfort within a big league clubhouse.

“He’s not afraid to be different,” veteran reliever Darren O’Day said. “Just look at his mustache. He’s figured out what works for him and he sticks with it. Some of that quirkiness involves humor and he’s funny.”

While Strider has created laughs with some impersonations, his "Seinfeld"-related humor doesn’t really involve imitating Jerry, George, Kramer or any of the classic show’s main characters.

“I’m more like if somebody says something stupid in the clubhouse, I’ll make it funnier," said Strider. "I like ['Seinfeld' creator] Larry David a lot and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' I can quote a lot of Seinfeld episodes. I can’t deliver it.”

Along with having a blazing fastball and a witty sense of humor, Strider has been known to put one of his legs behind his head while stretching in the weight room.

“My legs would tear if I tried that,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “Crazy flex.”

It’s remarkable to see how comfortable Strider has become just two months into his second professional season.

“He’s coming out of his shell a little bit,” Anderson said. “If you can throw 100 in the big leagues, you can do whatever you want.”