Red Sox relief pitcher: Matt Strahm
We’ve seen the story a million times before: A middling starter moves to the bullpen and becomes a dominant reliever. Whether it be because of a lack of a third pitch, mediocre control, or an inability to work deep into games, some pitchers are unable to unlock their full potential until they are moved into a relief role. Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, and Wade Davis are all recent examples of players who reinvented themselves when pitching in the late innings.
Matt Strahm could be another one of those guys. The lefty has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starter, but he has been far better in shorter outings. His 5.08 ERA as a starter pales in comparison to his 2.90 ERA as a reliever. That bodes well for his new team, as the Red Sox plan to use him exclusively out of the bullpen.
Strahm’s pitcher profile makes it clear why he has been much better in a relief role. His straight, low 90’s fastball gets exposed when forced to work deep into games, but he excels in shorter spurts when he can spam his plus breaking balls. Batters hit just .169 against his curveball in 2019 and whiffed 27.3 percent of the time on his slider, per Baseball Savant. Unlike most soft-tossing lefties, however, Strahm doesn’t have excessive platoon splits, as right-handers actually posted a lower OPS against him than lefties.
The reason we don’t have more recent information on Strahm is because a recurring knee injury has limited him to 27 1/3 innings since 2019. The good news is that his arm has a clean bill of health, and he has looked sharp so far this spring.
Stat Predictions: 4.54 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 6.4 K/9