The Braves are set to promote right-handed pitching prospect Spencer Strider to the Majors this weekend, as first reported by Eric Cole of Talking Chop. He’ll work out of the Atlanta bullpen and give the Braves a highly intriguing postseason option. More specifically, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that he’ll be added to the big league roster today.
It’s the culmination of a remarkable, meteoric rise through the Braves’ farm system. Strider, 22, was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft and barely pitched in 2020 due to the NCAA shutdown and the canceled minor league season. He opened the 2021 season with the Braves’ Low-A affiliate but has skyrocketed to the Majors with outrageous strikeout numbers across four different minor league affiliates. The Clemson product pitched to a 0.59 ERA in Low-A, a 2.45 ERA in Class-A Advanced, a 4.71 ERA in Double-A and recently struck out the side in his Triple-A debut.
While the combined 3.64 ERA doesn’t necessarily jump out, Strider’s power arsenal certainly does. He’s punched out 153 batters in 94 innings this season — 39.3 percent of the 389 hitters he’s faced overall. David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets that Strider’s fastball was up to 101 mph in his recent Triple-A debut.
In the long run, the Braves will likely give Strider the opportunity to continue developing as a starting pitcher. That Triple-A debut this week was the lone relief appearance of the season, as all 21 of his other outings have been starts. That said, Baseball America noted when listing Strider sixth among Atlanta farmhands on their midseason rankings that because of his Tommy John surgery in college, a relatively slight size (six feet tall) and below-average command, he may ultimately settle in as a power reliever anyhow.
For now, Strider gives Braves fans even more to be excited for over the final weekend and gives manager Brian Snitker a potential relief weapon that postseason opponents won’t have had a first-hand look at. He’ll technically require commissioner approval to be added to the postseason roster as an injury replacement, because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster on Sept. 1. However, such replacements are reasonably common, and it seems unlikely the Braves would’ve called Strider up for the final three games if they weren’t at least contemplating him as an option for the looming NLDS.