When A.J Preller announced that the Padres were sending Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter, and Brandon Maurer to the Royals and getting back Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, and the eighteen year old Ruiz in return, there were eyebrows raised and many couldn’t say with conviction that the Padres were benefiting enough from the trade. Losing three of your trade chips in one deal is a tough sell, but honestly, a fair evaluation of this trade would be possible only after a couple of years.
Let’s get to know one of the pieces that the Padres acquired — LHP Matt Strahm. Hailing from West Fargo, North Dakota, the tall and slender Strahm was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the twenty-first round (643rd overall) in the 2012 MLB Draft.
He owns a diverse arsenal, which consists of a four-seam fastball that sits between 91-96 MPH, a slider that has a velocity between 78-83 MPH, a curve ball that comes out at 74-77 MPH, and a less frequently used change-up that he hurls in the range of 80-86 MPH.
Additionally,a scouting report by Bernie Pleskoff of Fanrag Sports notes that Strahm isn’t afraid to attack hitters, writing, “Strahm has a tough mound demeanor and he doesn’t shy away from big hitters.”
Strahm’s off-field demeanor seems to match his on-field mound demeanor as he didn’t shy away from thanking his former organization. The impressive Strahm wrote “The thrill of having my named called on draft day, the chills I got making my debut, the rush I get every time taking the mound at the K, all came with Royals across my chest. I will be forever grateful to Dayton Moore and the entire Kansas City Royals organization for not only the opportunity, but for always being incredibly classy and treating me like family.”
2012 – 2014
As he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, Strahm missed all of 2013 season and most of 2014 season as well, pitching just forty-nine innings and starting only one game in the first couple years.
Minor Leagues (2015 – 2016)
It was 2015 when Matt Strahm really started coming into his own. He pitched ninety-four innings and started in 11 games with the statistic standing out being an impressive ability to strike out hitters at will (K/9 value of 10.99). Also, his walk rate numbers (BB/9 value of 2.51) were stellar. Naturally, his performance enabled him to move up the ranks in Kansas City minor leagues, being assigned to Double-A ball.
In 2016, pitching for the AA-Royals, Strahm excelled at putting up superior numbers. He pitched 102.1 innings, with a frugal ERA of 3.43, FIP of 3.72 and xFIP of 3.05, again stats worth noting are his K/9 value of 9.51 and BB/9 value of 2.02. These statistics and his age were good enough reasons for Kansas City Royals to promote him to the big league.
Major League Debut and Beyond
Strahm made his major league debut on July 31st, 2016 as a reliever for the Royals. He went twenty-two innings without conceding a home run, and his K/9 value was a staggering 12.27, as well as were his ERA of 1.23 and FIP of 2.04.
With an impressive 2016 behind him, Strahm was ranked the seventy-second overall prospect to start the 2017 season; the belief was that Strahm would be a part of the starting rotation for the Royals. However, the Royals acquired a bunch of pitchers that included the likes of Jason Hammels, Travis Wood, and Nate Karns, which relegated Strahm to the role of a relief pitcher. In that role once again, he was less impressive than his debut year, pitching thirty-four innings and conceding an ERA of 5.45 before being shutdown for the season with a torn patellar tendon.
While it’s uncertain what role a healthy Matt Strahm will have in 2018, he carries all the traits of a quality starting pitcher. If everything works out, Strahm could very well play out to be a well-timed master stroke for the Padres, and if it doesn’t, they likely found a guy who can eat up some innings for the team as they continue the rebuild.