Spencer Strider teases how Braves ace could be even better in 2024

Once Spencer Strider develops a third plus-pitch, the Atlanta Braves' ace will be even more unhittable. What if I told you that critical third pitch may not have to be the changeup after all?

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

Throwing a changeup well is so hard. As a crafty right-hander in my youth, changeups were death sentences for me. I didn't have a ton of velocity, so anything I got up in the zone would be hit some 500 feet over my head. If I had the raw power, or the thighs, of Spencer Strider, I might not be writing this here Atlanta Braves article for you in the early part of February. Is that a good thing? I don't know!

What I do know is Strider is desperately trying to identify and develop the third pitch in his arsenal. His fastball explodes out of his right hand, often touching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. He also has a hard biting slider that even the most disciplined hitters swing over top of on the regular. Of course, he really needs to develop that third pitch. Many people believe it is going to be a changeup.

However, Strider did a fantastic job of explaining why his changeup is never going to be a featured pitch in his arsenal. He throws it on occasion, but rarely uses it like his slider or fastball with Atlanta.

"Yeah, the changeup is something I've thrown really my whole life, but as I've learned more about my body and biomechanics, and my general strengths and weaknesses, it's something I've come to understand is not an easy pitch for me to throw mechanically. I think the ceiling for it is where it is. It's never going to be something I can throw 50 percent of the time."

What did have my intrigue is that he may be open to developing a third pitch not called a changeup...

"There are other pitches that I can learn that I have a higher aptitude for that I might try to learn. That may be a direction I move in. But I understand the logic behind more pitches equals harder to hit, but that's not necessarily true."

I have a few ideas of what that may be, but I really appreciate the fact that Strider takes such great care of his body and knows what his his strengths and weaknesses are as a young starting pitcher.

"For me, what makes me successful is really just being on time. It's difficult to react when you have to honor the fastball. Execution is really the biggest thing for me. I think that's where I got in trouble sometimes."

Strider won 20 games and led the NL in strikeouts a season ago with really only two plus-pitches.

Let's speculate what the much-debated third pitch may be for him. It may be easier for him to master.

Spencer Strider hints that he could be adding a new pitch to his arsenal

As long as he continually hones in on his mechanics and maintains his necessary levels of pliability, which I am sure The Quadfather is most definitely going to do, Strider needs something that is either off-speed or something with more downward movement than even his hard-biting slider. With the changeup not sufficing to his liking, I think either a split-finger fastball or a sinker is what he needs...

For me at least, a splitter was one changeup sort of grip I could throw that masked my fastball delivery and got the downward movement I wanted. It is kind of a junk pitch, but one fireball pitchers like Strider can master. One guy's brain he should definintely pick is Braves icon John Smoltz. He really only three a four-seam fastball, a hard-biting slider and a great split-finger that fell off the table.

The other pitch that I think Strider should consider is a sinker. It is not a change in velocity, but rather a downward moving fastball that inducing groundballs. This would put the ball on the ground more often for him, allowing the great defense behind him to back him up to make plays without such a heavy reliance on the punch-out. More groundballs means Strider gets to stay in the game longer.

The more efficient Strider can get with his pitching, the better off the Braves will be as a contender.

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