Braves' Opening Day starter is ready to send a message to rival Phillies

Blessed with three plus pitches, Spencer Strider could be a handful vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

While he has had his struggles with them in the postseason, Spencer Strider has owned the Philadelphia Phillies during the regular season. Strider will toe the rubber for the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day this year vs. their hated NL East rival at their place. Strider was a 20-game winner in his second full season. He did all this with pretty much only two high-end pitches: A fastball and a slider.

Now that he has harnessed all the power of another off-speed offering, the Phillies could be the latest team to have trouble with the curve. Atlanta going with Strider as the Opening Day starter was slightly controversial, as this could be Max Fried's last season with the Braves. While Fried will be entering free agency next offseason, he will start the home opener for Atlanta vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

There is a lot to dissect with Atlanta choosing Strider over Fried as the Braves' Opening Day starter. While it does not indicate that Fried is surely gone in his free agency, this move is a reward for how great Strider was in spring training, as well as his long-term commitment to the team. Fried could re-up in free agency next winter, but we all know the type of games that Alex Anthopoulos loves to play...

David O'Brien of The Athletic outlined some stats that show Strider's dominance vs. the Phillies.

This is Strider's first Opening Day start, as Fried had opened the three previous seasons for Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves decide to go with Spencer Strider as Opening Day starter

To me, this is all about confronting the elephant in the room. For as good as Strider has been vs. the Phillies during the regular season, they have owned him the last two postseasons. Atlanta has won the last six NL East division titles, but only has one World Series to show for it. In fact, the Braves only have two deep postseason runs over that stretch. 2020 to the NLCS and in 2021 when they won it all.

If Strider can fully harness the curveball throughout the season, he might win his first NL Cy Young. More importantly, I cannot wait for him to push Fried and the rest of the Atlanta staff to become the best in baseball. Atlanta's starting pitching is much-improved, but it has been the Braves' bottleneck throughout much of their dynastic run over the NL East. Together, Strider and Fried can change that.

Of course, the Braves could conceivably get off to a dreadful start in April. After all, they have to play two of the best teams in the Senior Circuit from last year in Philadelphia and Arizona. Then again, the Phillies and Diamondbacks also have to play the Braves. No matter how this shakes out, give MLB credit for scheduling great first series involving the Braves, both on the road and then later at home.

There is no better way to fight fire than with fire. Here is to Strider being even more Stache N Gas!

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