Phillies 2024 Season Preview: LHP Matt Strahm

After jumping around between different roles in 2023, the left-hander is expected to spend this season in the bullpen.
Philadelphia Phillies left-handed pitcher Matt Strahm projects for a full-time bullpen role in 2024
Philadelphia Phillies left-handed pitcher Matt Strahm projects for a full-time bullpen role in 2024 / Elsa/GettyImages

The next player in our Philadelphia Phillies 2024 Season Preview Series is pitcher Matt Strahm.

Previous season previews: José AlvaradoAndrew BellattiAlec BohmConnor BrogdonNick CastellanosRodolfo CastroKody ClemensJake CaveDylan CoveySeranthony DomínguezDarick HallKolby AllardBryce HarperJeff HoffmanOrion KerkeringRafael MarchánBrandon MarshYunior MartéMichael MercadoMax CastilloNick NelsonAaron NolaLuis OrtizCristian PacheJ.T. RealmutoJohan RojasMichael RuckerWhit Merrifield, Cristopher Sánchez, Kyle Schwarber, Edmundo Sosa, Gregory Soto, Bryson Stott

We'll look back at Strahm's 2023 performance and then examine where he might end up this season using the popular Steamer and ZiPS projection systems, which can be found on FanGraphs.

Matt Strahm 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 Stats: 56 G, 10 GS, 87.2 IP, 9-5 record, 3.29 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 108 SO, 21 BB, 2.0 fWAR

2024 Steamer: 68 G, 0 GS, 68 IP, 4-3 record, 3.55 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 79 SO, 21 BB, 0.8 fWAR

2024 ZiPS DC: 68 G, 0 GS, 68 IP, 6-4 record, 3.92 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 75 SO, 19 BB, 0.5 fWAR

Matt Strahm 2024 season preview

Ahead of the 2023 season, the Phillies signed Strahm to a two-year, $15 million deal — and it has looked like a steal so far.

Bouncing from the starting rotation to the bullpen, the 32-year-old put up the second-most innings of his career at 87 2/3. That workload was his biggest since the 2019 season when he logged 114 2/3 innings with the San Diego Padres.

And his workload didn't ease in the playoffs, where he saw action in 7 2/3 innings across 11 games and put up a 3.52 ERA. Included in his playoff résumé was closing out Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves and sealing the team's return to the National League Championship Series.

Strahm's role in the bullpen is solidified, and he has shown no early signs of regressing. In three innings of spring training action heading into Saturday, he has been lights-out, giving up zero hits, no runs, walking no one and striking out six batters.

Strahm's reworked slider is here to stay

After only throwing the slider twice in all of 2022, it was his second-most-used pitch in 2023, accounting for 25 percent of his pitches, according to Baseball Savant. And he found massive success with the added weapon.

Opponents only hit .151 off the pitch, and he maintained a 33.3 whiff percentage and 24.6 putaway percentage with the slider.

When speaking with Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia about his success last season, he gave some credit to his sweeper after the pitching coaches worked on getting him to adjust his grip, saying: "That helped me a lot. Because my fastball is up, I need to get something to go down. I can locate my fastball down which makes them then chase that pitch down. But if I'm just throwing up and landing in the middle of the zone, as soon as I throw something down it's just shut down and it's just a ball. That helped me a lot last year, the sweeper. The sweeper, I hate calling it that, it's a slider."

There are no signs of Strahm going away from the pitch that has worked so well since the fine-tuning. Through three games in spring training, heading into Saturday, 11 of his 35 pitches were sliders. Again, the pitch is the one he has used second-most so far.

Strahm's focus is projected to fully shift to the bullpen

In his 56 appearances last year, Strahm filled almost every role imaginable. From starting to long relief to closing. As a starter in 10 games, he went 33 1/3 innings with a 4.05 ERA. In 46 relief appearances, his ERA dropped to 2.82 in 54 1/3 innings.

Heading into this year, the projections have him penciled in exclusively as a reliever. Steamer and ZiPS DC both have him at 68 games, all from the pen. They also have him going only 68 innings, though fans can expect Strahm to be one of the go-to options to eat multiple relief innings when called upon.

With the team's closer from last season, Craig Kimbrel, no longer on the squad, manager Rob Thomson will likely keep going with a closer-by-committee approach with the back of the bullpen, meaning Strahm could find himself closing at times based on matchups.

In 2023, he logged two saves, three blown saves and 11 holds. In 17 innings of save situations, his ERA was 4.24, but in 37 1/3 innings of non-save situations, that dropped to 2.17. Both Steamer and ZiPS DC are projecting another two saves and 11 holds for the left-handed reliever.

And his ability to strike out batters shouldn't change much, with Steamer projecting a 28.3 strikeout percentage and ZiPS DC coming in at 27.4 percent.

After being one of the more under-the-radar members of last season's team, Strahm will once again play a vital role for this organization as a reliable arm out of the bullpen as the Phillies look to make it back to the postseason. Plus, he's in search of a new contract.