Spencer Strider has been one the MLB’s best pitchers since his debut in 2021. Since then, he’s pitched to an ERA+ of 154, FIP of 1.93 and has struck out 288 batters over just 183 1⁄3 innings. He’s started just once against the Dodgers in his career throwing six shutout innings whilst striking out nine batters. So, what kind of stuff does Strider have that has led him to this dominance and will that continue against LA?
Pitch #1: Four seam, 2023 usage rate - 61.3 percent
2023 stats - .216 xBA, .381 xSLG, .301 xwOBA
Average velo - 97.0 MPH - Spin rate - 2,395 RPM - vertical movement - 9.8 inches - horizontal movement - 5.6 inches
No, that’s not a typo, Strider actually throws his four-seamer 61.3 percent of the time. It’s one of those pitches that batters almost always know it’s coming and yet they still can’t put it in play. The whiff percentage on it is 31.7 percentage which is better than most four seamers across baseball. Now the odd part of its dominance is the quality of contact against. Hitters average launch angle on it is 21 degrees, the barrel rate is 11.8 percent, and the average exit velocity is 91.3 MPH, but hitters the expected metrics are still low. A big part of this is the fact he’s struck out 42 batters in 110 at bats with the pitch. It’s tough to have a high xBA with a K rate well above 33 percent.
Pitch #2: Slider, 2023 usage rate - 33.3 percent
2023 stats - .152 xBA, .228 xSLG, .217 xwOBA
Average velo - 85.1 MPH - Spin rate - 2,381 RPM - vertical movement - 36.6 inches - horizontal movement - 5.5 inches
Strider’s slider is in contention for being one of the best pitches in the MLB. The whiff rate on it is 54.7 percent, the chase rate is 40.5 percent and the chase miss rate is a mind-boggling 87.9 percent. The in-zone percentage on it is 44.4 percent, which when you think about it almost seems unnecessarily high because of how badly hitters struggle against out of the zone. Despite throwing it 293 times this year with 27 batted ball events, hitters have just 8 hits against it compared to 36 strikeouts.
Pitch #3: Changeup, 2023 usage rate - 5.4 percent
2023 stats - .022 xBA, .025 xSLG, .082 xwOBA
Average velo - 86.5 MPH - Spin rate - 2,237 RPM - vertical movement - 23.8 inches (6.5 inches below average) - horizontal movement - 15.2 inches
There have been only three batted balls against his changeup this season so there should be almost zero stock put into the expected metrics on this pitch. I wasn’t even going to include his changeup in this article, but it felt like it was worth mentioning because the pitch percentage on it against lefties is 9.8 percent whilst he’s yet to throw it to a righty this year.
Key matchup: Max Muncy
This is a matchup that scares me for Muncy. As of May 22nd, he is in the 20th percentile for strikeout percentage and 15th for whiff rate. Strider on the other hand is in the 99th and 97th percentile respectively in those areas. Muncy also has a whiff rate of 43.5 percent on sliders this season, Strider’s second-most used pitch. Honestly, I think Muncy is going to struggle badly in this one which might lead to a poor overall offensive showing for the Dodgers.
Prediction - Strider throws seven innings, allows two runs and strikes out nine.