Matt Strahm has now gone 17.2 innings without allowing a run. Just don’t make him talk about it.


Matt Strahm has not allowed an earned run since March 29. Over that span, hitters have managed just nine hits and one walk against him, with 28 strikeouts. That amounts to a scoreless streak of 17.2 straight innings — which is the longest streak by a Phillies reliever since 2017.

The left-handed pitcher is aware of this, but prefers not to talk about it.

“I don’t follow numbers,” he said.

Fair enough. Strahm would much rather focus on how he feels. It’s the reason why he’s constantly tinkering with grips. The only thing that matters is how he is feeling in a given moment, and lately, he’s been feeling good.

His pitches have sharpened this year. Part of this could be due to his usage. Strahm started last season pitching out of the rotation, and now he is only pitching out of the bullpen.

But he has also put work into refining his pitches, particularly his four-seam fastball and his slider.

“I know it doesn’t read on the gun — that’s how old I am, I’m calling it a radar gun — but there’s life to the fastball,” said manager Rob Thomson. “It’s jumping out of his hand, and it’s really tough to hit when you can command it. It’s a really good thing to have.”

The slider has more depth to it than it did in previous seasons. In spring training of last year, pitching coach Caleb Cotham began educating Strahm on seam-shifted wake. The idea was to use turbulent air to push the baseball toward home plate.

As a result, Strahm has been able to get below the barrel more often.

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“For the longest time in my career, I’ve always tried to get [depth] by manipulating the baseball while I’m throwing it,” Strahm said. “But Caleb showed me a lot of stuff about seam-shifting, so not so much how your hand is going to move the ball, but how the physics of a baseball works, and how it’s going to come out your hand. It was literally just rotating the grip, moving my thumb a little bit, and then all of a sudden, I was able to do it.

“I’ve always been able to get above a barrel with my fastball. I’ve always been an east, west, up, kind of guy. Now I can go down [with my slider].”

It is the pitch that Strahm induces the most whiffs with (at a rate of 33.3%). Last season, his slider had 35.5 inches of vertical movement. This year, it has 39.8 inches, which is a significant jump from season-to-season.

Strahm isn’t paying attention to any of that, though.

“I’m not a big numbers guy,” he said. “The only thing that matters to me today is 6:05 we got the Nats. The only thing that can happen with my numbers is if I get the next guy out they get better.”

Update on Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker, who is recovering from a left toe contusion after being hit in the foot with a hard-hit single on May 16, will throw a light bullpen session on Sunday. Thomson is optimistic that Walker will make his next start.

“[It’ll depend on] how he gets down the slope [in the bullpen session],” Thomson said. “But I’m thinking he’s going to be alright.”

Update on Trea Turner

Trea Turner (left hamstring strain) was supposed to hit on the field on Saturday, but couldn’t because of rain. He is expected to hit on the field on Sunday. Thomson said that Turner will travel with the Phillies to Colorado and California for their upcoming road trip.

There is still no timeline for Turner’s return, but the Phillies do not want to rush him.

“We’re going to make sure there is nothing wrong with that leg, because that thing can be — he can have that for the rest of his career if we don’t fix it properly,” Thomson said.

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Thomson said that Turner still has some more boxes to check before he embarks on a rehab assignment. He would need to go through baserunning, sliding, and some live BPs before heading to the minor leagues.

“Then, we’ll get him into games and build up his innings, starting with probably five innings or six innings,” Thomson said. “You’ve got to give him off days, DH days, so it takes a while.”

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