Spencer Strider has placed himself right back in the NL Cy Young Race

Atlanta Braves starter Spencer Strider is having a historic season despite some struggles. He has pitched his way back into contention for the NL Cy Young Award.

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants
Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Spencer Strider started the season on a tear for the Atlanta Braves. He was one of the most dominant pitchers in all of Major League Baseball.

The first month of the season was incredible for Strider who pitched to an ERA of 1.80 through 5 starts in April. He had 11 walks and 49 strikeouts through 30 innings pitched and looked like he was on pace for a historic season.

However, things started to get a bit rocky for the flamethrowing right-hander in May and June.

Mid-season struggles and renaissance

The month of May saw Strider earn a 4.01 ERA through 33.2 innings allowing 15 runs on 27 hits with 11 walks and 57 strikeouts. June was even worse for him with a 5.46 ERA through 28 innings allowing 17 ER, 29 H, 10 BB, and 40 K. Opponents batted .266 against Strider that month as he just couldn't put batters away.

The month of July was a bit better for Spencer as he had a 3.73 ERA in the month. His walk total dropped and that helped him out a lot with just 4 of them in the month. He allowed 13 runs on 28 hits with those 4 walks, 53 strikeouts, and a .231 opponents average.

August has been a completely different story for the former Clemson product with a collective 2.37 ERA so far with a .162 opponents average in 30.1 innings. His walk total jumped up a bit to 11 in the month but he's allowed just 8 runs on 17 hits with 37 strikeouts.

The most recent start for Spencer was a win after 7 strong innings against the Giants in San Francisco. He allowed just 1 run on 3 hits with 1 walk and 9 strikeouts. More impressively, his last 3 starts were 7 inning outings with a combined 1 run allowed on 7 hits with 6 walks and 25 strikeouts.

It seems he's found his command again and the velocity is once again sitting easily in the upper 90s after struggling a little with that in previous months. It seems that he was pressing a bit to rein in that command that eluded him a bit.

His FIP, BABIP, and WHIP have all decreased in the second half. FIP is currently at 2.72, BABIP .294, and WHIP 0.99 after the break. He also improved his walk rate and home run rate. His BB/9 dropped to 2.40 and the HR/9 down to 0.92.

He has the best FIP in all of baseball at 2.80 overall this season and he's tied for the second-best WAR of 4.7 with Kevin Gausman. He obviously leads baseball with a 13.85 K/9 ratio through 153.1 innings pitched with 236 total strikeouts on the year.

Strider has been historically good

Strider is on pace for 300+ strikeouts for the season and he's been breaking or matching records all season. When he threw his 8th strikeout during his most recent outing in San Francisco, he tied Dwight Gooden for the fewest starts needed to reach 400 career strikeouts which is 46 of them.

He's also just the 4th Atlanta Brave since 1900 to record 230+ strikeouts in a season and the first since Javier Vasquez did so in 2009. The other players? John Smoltz in 1996/1997 and Phil Niekro in 1977/1978. What makes Strider unique here? He is the only pitcher to do so in fewer than 30 starts.

Earlier in the season, he broke his own record by becoming the fastest pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in a single season in MLB history. Oh, and he got that 200th strikeout against Shohei Ohtani. He reached this milestone in 123.1 innings pitched versus the 130 it took him in 2022.

This shows you just how good Strider is at his young age and the caliber of player he is. He had slowly been falling out of the NL Cy Young talks but he's pitched his way right back into the conversation and if he continues on the path he's on currently, it's as good as his.

Spencer has clearly figured something out mechanically and his performance on the field and stats indicate that. He is technically in line to start Wednesday's series finale in Colorado but with the recent promotion of Darius Vines, Atlanta could push Strider back a day to start the series opener against the Dodgers instead.

Whenever he starts, we know it will be one worth watching and driving Spencer one step towards more history.