The Kansas City Royals promoted lefty Matt Strahm to the major league roster back on July 31st. This transaction got lost in the shuffle around the trade deadline and we neglected to get up a rookie report for Strahm. Let's correct that.
Basic background from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Matthew Strahm, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Bats: R Throws: L HT: 6-4 WT: 180 DOB: November 12, 1991
Strahm was drafted in the 21st round in 2012 from Neosho County Community College in Kansas. He fell off the radar following Tommy John surgery in 2013 but came back gangbusters in 2015, posting excellent strikeout ratios in A-ball. He has the stuff to back the Ks up, with a fastball in the low-90s and a curve that flashes plus. His control needs work and it remains to be seen if he starts or relieves at higher levels, but lefties who push past 90 and get their share of whiffs must be watched carefully. There’s some funk in his delivery and he held lefties to a .158 average for Wilmington, giving him a shot at being a strong LOOGY if starting doesn’t work out. Grade C.
Strahm made 18 starts and four relief appearances for Double-A Northwest Arkansas before his promotion, posting a 3.43 ERA with a 107/23 K/BB in 102 innings. The Royals moved him to the bullpen in the majors and he's been excellent thus far: 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings, 15/3 K/BB, four hits. He's actually been more effective in his small MLB sample against right-handers (.108 wOBA) compared to lefties (.302); his platoon splits were even in Double-A.
He's not a soft-tosser: he's topping out at 96 mph in the majors while mixing in a change-up in the 80s and a curve in the 70s. He may not throw quite that consistently hard when used as a starter, but his command took a step forward this year and the results have been strong everywhere.
I don't think there is anything fluky about Strahm's success so far; the only question in my mind is his future role. He shouldn't be written off as a LOOGY and may very well end up being a solid starting pitcher if the Royals give him a real opportunity. Don't overlook him.