The 2019 Season Should be Huge for Matt Strahm

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The 2019 baseball season should be huge for Matt Strahm as he finally gets full strength back in his legs. A knee surgery in 2017 prevented him from starting 2018 at full speed. He will be prepared in 2019 and should take his game to a whole new level.

In July of 2017, the San Diego Padres fleeced the Kansas City Royals in a deal that brought the team two very talented young players.

Second base prospect Esteury Ruiz and young left-handed pitcher Matt Strahm were obtained from the Royals, along with veteran pitcher Travis Wood. The Padres sent Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer, and Trevor Cahill east in the deal. Both Cahill and Buchter left Kansas City after the season and now play with the Oakland A’s, while Brandon Maurer has been a huge disappointment for Kansas City, posting a 9.00 ERA, and has been shuttled up and down from Triple-A Omaha.

The Royals surely have remorse about the trade and they have been grilled publicly for it.

Matt Strahm was once the Royals’ top prospect, but a left knee injury left him sidelined for the entire second half of the 2017 season. The Padres took advantage of the Royals’ impatience and jumped at the opportunity to add the prized pitcher in a deal.

The 26-year-old left-hander has rewarded the Padres with a solid 2018 campaign. He is currently 3-3 with a 2.20 ERA and an impressive WHIP of 0.956. Strahm has started some games for the team (five), but has been used out of the pen for the majority of the time. The knee injury is still a slight concern for the Padres, as they have limited his innings to a certain degree. They are wisely being cautious with the hurler.

I caught up with Strahm on Friday after a workout in the outfield with the pitchers. The group was tossing around a Frisbee and a football in the outfield before the game. I asked Matt about the workout, and this is what he told me: “We have random conditioning drills we do. It makes conditioning fun.” The group broke a pretty good sweat out there, as they ran continually to chase down the Frisbee. This type of “play” is a great way to get your work in and break the monotony of the major league grind.

This was my first time speaking to Matt, so I was curious about a few things. I first wanted to know what his immediate reaction was to the trade which brought him to the Padres. “I was super surprised. I blew my knee out July 1 and was scheduled for surgery on the 17. I had my surgery and was traded on the 24 of July. It was so sudden. It obviously caught me by surprise, being that I was injured. I told myself that it means I am doing something good. If A.J. wants me when I am injured.” He is right. Despite the knee injury, the Padres were fully on-board about bringing Strahm to San Diego. The trade has been a bright spot in Preller’s career.

Credit: AP Photo

I asked Matt about the knee and if he felt 100 percent. “I’m fully ready to go. The big issue I am dealing with now is that I did not have an offseason of strengthening and being ready for 162 games. I had a lot of muscle atrophy happen. My left quad was obsolete when spring started. As you saw today, I am still limited in my conditioning to some extent. What is going to be huge is when I get a full offseason of lifting. It will be nice to worry about strength training as opposed to health.” There are some limitations with his knee. The majority of the issue, as Matt mentioned, is that he did not have a full offseason to prepare. In 2019, I expect to see a healthier Strahm take his game to the next level.

In speaking about the team, the prospect pool came into our conversation. Matt is well aware of the depth in the system, and I asked him about it. “There is a ton of talent here. I told my agency to go scout the backfields when they came to spring training.” We both laughed about that comment, but it is true. There are literally dozens of young players without representation that could be viable major leaguers one day in the Padres’ deep system.

Matt started the year on the D.L. He did not join the club until a month or so into the season. I wanted to know if he saw any pitchers in the minors that caught his attention. I enjoy asking players about younger talent as they have an opportunity to help guide these players. “I rehabbed in Double-A, so I got  a chance to watch Cal Quantrill and Logan Allen in my time there. Allen is going to be really good. He is only 20 and is raw, but will be very good. He is open to learning and always asked a bunch of questions. I’d give him a little crap about asking too many (he said with a laugh). He is really a good kid and extremely talented. I also had the pleasure to play with Tatis while I was down there. He is a very talented young man.” The Tatis comments go without saying as he has a special talent. It is nice to hear positive thinks about Logan Allen from Strahm. The left-handed pitcher is wise beyond his ears, and the fact he has so many questions means that he will be a prepared athlete when his time comes.


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