Strahm tossed four scoreless innings out of the bullpen in Saturday's 6-2 Cactus League win over the Reds, conceding two hits and no walks and striking out eight. The Padres' decision to use Strahm in relief is less important than the fact that he upped his innings count in his second outing of the spring, which signals he's still being prepped for a rotation role once the regular season arrives. Strahm showed Saturday what kind of upside he might have in that capacity, boosting his spring strikeout total to 12 through nine scoreless frames across three outings. Expect the southpaw's average draft position to rise steadily as a result of his early dominance.
Strahm is expected to be a member of the rotation this season if he's able to get stretched out for the role in time for Opening Day, Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Strahm has potential sleeper value as a starter if the skills that led to a 2.05 ERA and a 28.2 percent strikeout rate as a reliever last season transfer over to the rotation. His workload could be managed carefully if he does earn a rotation spot, though, as he threw just 75.2 innings last year and 39.2 innings in 2017. With starters as a whole throwing fewer and fewer innings every year, however, that's less of a concern than it's ever been, so Strahm could remain interesting even if used cautiously.
Strahm is working towards a spot in the rotation, though his role remains undecided. Strahm technically started five games last season, though all came as the first pitcher on bullpen days. He has the talent and diverse arsenal to start, having recorded a 2.05 ERA last year while throwing four pitches at least 12 percent of the time, though he comes with durability concerns. He threw just 75.2 innings last year after missing time due to knee surgery, so a jump up to a full starter's workload could be tough. Injuries to fellow southpaws Jose Castillo (forearm) and Brad Wieck (cancer) could mean that Strahm is needed in the bullpen.
Strahm will be given the chance to compete for a rotation spot in spring training, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. "I'm showing up to camp as a starter," Strahm said. "I'm going to come in, hopefully get an opportunity to compete for one of those five spots. As soon as Oct. 1 hits, I'm preparing myself as a starter." He was treated with kid gloves this year -- his first season back from Tommy John surgery -- but he has the stuff to start, and it sounds like the Padres will turn him loose in 2019. His catcher, Austin Hedges, says Strahm has four plus pitches. However, he hasn't been able to fully take advantage of that impressive arsenal out of the bullpen, as he typically can get through an inning or two by just relying on his mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider. A 6-foot-3 southpaw who turns 27 this offseason, Strahm has logged a 2.03 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 57.2 innings this season, so the Padres know they have an elite reliever on their hands as a fallback option. If he makes the rotation out of camp, he could surpass 100 innings for the first time since 2016. Strahm flies a little under the radar, but could make for an excellent speculative play at the end of drafts next spring.
Strahm tossed three innings in relief Sunday in the Padres' 7-4 loss to the Cubs. He gave up one unearned run on one hit and a walk and didn't strike out a batter. Strahm helped keep the Padres competitive after manager Andy Green pulled the plug on starter Eric Lauer, who lasted just two innings and gave up five runs. The 26-year-old lefty has been stellar this season while working as an occasional spot starter and long reliever for the Padres, accruing a 2.34 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 34.2 innings.