Outspoken Phillies pitcher upset with unfair double standards after MLB rule change

Matt Strahm is unhappy with a new rule that he feels gives hitters an in-game advantage.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm is not afraid to speak his mind. The valuable left-handed reliever was a recent guest on the Baseball Isn't Boring podcast and expressed his frustration with a new rule that benefits hitters' in-game preparation with the use of technology.

Speaking with host Rob Bradford, Strahm was asked if there was anything that bothered him about the current state of baseball entering the 2024 season. Strahm was quick to answer with a recent rule change that he feels leaves relief pitchers at a great disadvantage.

Hitters are now allowed to use a virtual pitching machine during the game that mimics the velocity and spin rate of any pitcher

The use of this modern pitching machine was formerly only allowed before the start of a game and was ordered to be shut off as game time approached. According to Strahm, the machine will be allowed for in-game use this year. So, what are Strahm's thoughts?

"The new batting machine that hitters are now allowed to use during the game," Strahm said. "I'm not going to remember the name of it, but essentially it's like a virtual pitching machine that will mimic pitchers, pitches, mechanics, everything. So if you're on the bench, you can sit there for the first seven innings and take 12 at-bats against [José] Alvarado before you know you're going to pinch-hit against him in the ninth."

Bradford seemed surprised by this news and then asked Strahm if pitchers were allowed to use similar technology to prepare in the bullpen.

"What's even crazier," responded Strahm, "Is when us pitchers asked if we could use Trackman in the bullpen for when we track how we warm up ... they just said no."

He continued, explaining how Trackman differs from the virtual hitting machine.

"There is instant feedback [with Trackman]," added Strahm. "But it's not like it's going to tell me how to throw to J.D. Martinez. It's just my pitches, my stuff. Where the hitting thing is literally Matt Strahm is on the screen going through his mechanics, and the ball is shooting out of my release point with my spin, my angle, everything."

Strahm on the double standard of hitters using this technology

Strahm was quick to note that offense is what drives interest in the game of baseball. But the new advantage that hitters have with this technology during the game will have a negative effect on the earned run averages of relievers going forward.

"A reliever sub 3.00 [ERA]," explained Strahm. "Is now a 3.50 because hitters have more prep to face you. In theory, it should be easier to hit."

When Bradford asked what he thinks is the primary motivation for letting hitters use this technology while not allowing pitchers to use something similar, Strahm once again doubled down on the desire to add more offense to the modern game.

"It's about getting the needle more towards the offense," answered Strahm. "Even with sunscreen with rosin, it tips the needle a little too much back towards the pitcher, so eliminate it. I understand that offense is what people want to see, they [MLB] are going to do all these things to create more offense."

It will be interesting to see if Strahm's predictions of higher bullpen ERAs and a sudden spike in offensive numbers are the end result of this added use of in-game technology. It's certainly a storyline to follow when the new season starts.