Rookie left-hander impresses in some high-leverage spots
By Scott Chasen
KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Matt Strahm is just 24 years old. He's played in just four games at the Major League level and hasn't spent two full weeks with the club since his callup. But you wouldn't know it looking at his last few outings.
Strahm surrendered a run in his first relief appearance, but he's been just about perfect ever since. Among his outings was a high-leverage situation against the Rays with the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead, in addition to a two-inning stint against the White Sox in Tuesday night's 7-5 loss in 10 innings, in which he struck out five of the seven batters he faced.
"In Spring Training, we were really impressed with his ability not to get real wide-eyed out on the mound," manager Ned Yost said. "He's been good."
Counting the Minors, Strahm has already thrown more innings this season than in any other, something the Royals are keeping an eye on. However, even with the extra workload, Yost said he could see Strahm getting a start as the season goes on, which makes sense given the promise he's shown.
At a glance, the transition for Strahm has been seamless. He's talked about interactions with the other Royals pitchers and how they've not only helped him on the field, but also with managing nerves.
"It's like any young guy that comes up, you try to point them in the right direction," right-hander Peter Moylan said.
That's been a recurring theme with the players who have been called up throughout the season. Something that several players have spoken about is the open atmosphere and the laid-back personalities of the Royals' staff.
It was all on display on Wednesday, as several pitchers and players chatted throughout the clubhouse, a somewhat typical scene in the Majors. But among the chats, glimpses of the individual personalities still showed. Left-hander Danny Duffy strolled around, whistling The Star-Spangled Banner in its entirety.
"If you can't fit in in this clubhouse, then something's probably not quite right," right-hander Chris Young said. "[Strahm is] obviously extremely talented, and part of living up to your potential is the comfort level. ... He acts like he's been here for a long time, in a good way."
Strahm has remained composed in each new situation he's entered. And that included Wednesday afternoon, when he hosted a video Q&A on the Royals' Twitter account. He said he'd never done anything like it, but loved to see the support he was already getting from the fans.