PEORIA, Ariz. -- Every Sunday night this offseason, Matt Strahm made a Costco run. His weekly meal prep required it, after all, because Costco sells eggs in packages of 60.
"We'd get two," said the 6-foot-3 left-hander with the long black hair. "We'd get 120 eggs. Sometimes, we'd have to swing back there Friday night [for more]."
The math checks out, which means Strahm’s offseason diet bordered on the absurd. Every morning, the Padres left-hander pounded a shake with orange juice and six raw eggs before his workout. When he finished, he'd eat more eggs and he'd work out again.
"I'd work out, I'd eat, and I'd work out and I'd eat some more," Strahm said wth a laugh, adding that he consumed 18 eggs per day -- before lunch.
There was method behind the madness. And perhaps for the first time, Strahm's offseason exploits paid meaningful dividends on a baseball field Monday. He pitched the middle three innings of the Padres' 8-0 win over Cleveland, and he threw 44 pitches -- more than all but two of his outings last season.
For some context, it's worth going back to last spring: Strahm was returning from knee surgery, and he was relegated to a bullpen role early in camp, when it became clear he couldn't handle a starter's workload. In the 'pen, Strahm pitched on consecutive days only once all year.
Fast forward to Monday. Strahm's playing weight sits above 200 pounds for the first time in his career, and he's about 18 pounds heavier than last season. During a 26-pitch fifth inning, he endured a dropped popup and a very questionable call on a pickoff attempt. With two outs, Strahm battled for nine pitches with Jake Bauers before striking him out with a nasty slider.
Strahm clearly wasn't at his sharpest, but after issuing a walk and a hit batter to start the frame, he escaped trouble with a zero. More important: He hopped out of the dugout for the sixth inning, and he put up another zero.
"The up-downs really got to me last year," Strahm said. "I felt it, every time, in my legs. Today, I felt fine. I felt normal."
If Strahm continues to build toward six or seven innings, the Padres think they have an ace up their sleeve. Strahm was dominant in the bullpen last season, posting a 2.05 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. More important, Strahm didn't pitch like a reliever.
"Anybody with a four-pitch mix like that, especially when they're all electric, that's a recipe for a starter, in my opinion," said catcher Austin Hedges.
Let's dive into those four pitches, according to Statcast data:
• Fastball: 58 percent usage, 93.4 mph, .202 batting average against, 88.3 mph average exit velocity, 26.1 percent whiff rate.
• Slider: 15.3 percent usage, 87 mph, .114 BAA, 78.1 mph aEV, 56 percent whiff rate.
• Changeup: 14.3 percent usage, 86 mph, .156 BAA, 86.8 mph aEV, 20 percent whiff rate.
• Curve: 12.3 percent usage, 78 mph, .200 BAA, 82.3 mph aEV, 10 percent whiff rate.
Strahm was comfortable enough with all three of his offspeed pitches to use them evenly. And opponents didn't have any success, hitting .200 or below against all of them.
"They're all true offspeed pitches," said pitching coach Darren Balsley. "They're all different, they're all distinct and they're all very good. So, yes, it is a starter's arsenal. ... It's about endurance and health, and that's it. There is no doubt in my mind that he can be a very good starter in the big leagues."
That's what the Padres thought in 2017 when they sent Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter to Kansas City for Strahm, Esteury Ruiz and Travis Wood in July. But Strahm had also undergone surgery that month to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.
"Last year, I was pitching on, so to speak, 1 1/2 legs," Strahm said. "I never felt recovered or felt good. Literally, my left leg was smaller than my right leg, if you measured the circumference."
That's no longer the case. And thus far, fatigue hasn't been a factor for Strahm, either. In that regard, he'll undoubtedly be tested over the next few weeks, as his pitch counts continue to increase. When he pitches, the following day will be dedicated to another intense leg workout (and perhaps a few more eggs) to build endurance.
"Every time I throw, I’ll go crush my legs the next day," Strahm said. "They're going to be there when I need them to be there."