‘Grindy, gritty’ Matt Strahm loves Philly and it’s hard not to love him back

After signing his extension, Strahm made it clear why he wanted to stay in Philadelphia — and the reasons will make fans appreciate the versatile left-hander even more.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm is happy to be staying in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Matt Strahm is happy to be staying in Philadelphia / Harry How/GettyImages

Add pitcher Matt Strahm to the list of athletes who have fully embraced what it means to play in front of Philadelphia Phillies fans.

On Sunday, the team announced an extension for the left-hander that will keep him in Philly through the 2025 season, with a club option for the 2026 season. According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, the extension is for $7.5 million next season and $4.5 million in 2026, which will become a vesting option of $7.5 million if he gets to 60 innings in 2025. 

Over the past few years, it’s become common for players to want to play in front of Phillies fans and be a part of this clubhouse. Superstar Bryce Harper has never held back when talking about playing in Philadelphia. Back in February, the newly signed Whit Merrifield talked about how those two factors influenced his decision to sign with the ballclub in free agency. 

Strahm confirmed those were the reasons he wanted to stay in Philadelphia, talking about fans holding him accountable when he's struggling and the “special” clubhouse.  

During Sunday’s spring training game, Strahm did an in-game interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia, where he said: “I just think Philly fits my personality. ... It's the place I want to win.”

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com provided some expanded comments from Strahm: "It's a grindy, gritty city and I feel like I match that pretty well. It's the City of Brotherly Love. Tell me when I'm doing bad, I ain't afraid to hear it."

Strahm went on to note to Zolecki that he wanted his representatives to forgo the possibility of a bigger deal in free agency to get a deal done with Philadelphia so he could focus on doing what he does best — taking the ball whenever called upon — rather than worrying about the next offseason. When talking about the possibility of passing up more money to stay with the Phillies, he said, "When's it enough?" 

In 2023, Strahm’s first year with the Phillies, the left-hander did it all, from starting to middle relief to back-of-the-bullpen appearances. Overall, he put up a 9-5 record, 3.29 ERA and 3.24 FIP while striking out 108 and only walking 21 in 87 2/3 innings. 

He went from beginning the season in the starting rotation to closing out Game 4 of the National League Division Series to send the team back to the National League Championship Series.

The 32-year-old's willingness to put any ego aside and tackle any role asked of him is part of the reason why fans have embraced the pitcher.

Strahm spoke to MLB Network Radio about his fluctuating roles, ultimately noting: "I just want to win. So whatever sets us up to win, is best for the other 25 guys in the clubhouse, that's what I want to do."

Strahm also noted that he views himself as a pitcher — not a starter, not a reliever.

With a reworked sweeper, the baseball card-collecting player is heading into the 2024 season with a more defined role as a reliever. As injuries have already affected the starting rotation, though, there's always a possibility manager Rob Thomson will task him with starting at some point this season, even if that isn't the goal right now.

One thing is clear, though — Strahm is ready to experience Red October again, telling Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia in early March: "Last year, the postseason was everything I thought it would be and even more. The atmosphere at The Bank is unmatchable in my opinion. I'm kinda mad we have to play May through August, I'm ready for October already."

This season, the Phillies are projected to have the best bullpen in all of Major League Baseball. As he proved last season, Strahm is a reliable workhorse who will play a big role in making that prediction come true in order to ensure postseason baseball returns to Citizens Bank Park.