Spencer Strider’s magnificence lies in his ability to make all of this look easy – even if it is, in fact, incredibly difficult. In his rookie season, he has defied the learning curve, evidenced by each new milestone he accomplishes.

He never saw this coming.

He never looked that far ahead.

“I always hoped that things would go this well,” Strider said. “I don’t know how you ever expect anything that specific to come out of the future. For me, it was just keep playing well and winning games. I figured everything would kind of work out, and at some point, I’d get where I wanted to be – that was obviously in the big leagues, on a winning team. I’m extremely grateful for the position I’m in.”

By striking out Philadelphia’s Nick Maton to begin the fifth inning, Strider became the third rookie in franchise history to reach the 200-strikeout mark and the first in the modern era. Strider needed only 130 innings to collect 200 strikeouts, meaning he collected 200 strikeouts in a season faster than any other pitcher in MLB history (Randy Johnson did it in 130 ⅔ innings in 2001).

In the Braves’ 5-2 win over the Phillies on Sunday at Truist Park, Strider struck out 10 batters over six innings. He allowed one run on one hit. The right-hander ranks sixth in the majors with 202 strikeouts this season.

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Strider joined Bill Stemmyer (239 strikeouts in 1886) and Kid Nichols (222 in 1890) as the only rookies in franchise history to tally at least 200 strikeouts.

Since 2000, only five Braves pitchers have struck out 200 batters in a season. Along with Strider, teammate Charlie Morton (216 strikeouts in 2021), Mike Foltynewicz (202 in 2018), Javier Vázquez (238 in 2009) and John Smoltz (211 in 2006) did it.

“I have high expectations for myself,” Strider said. “Everybody pinpoints specific checkpoints that they’re trying to achieve. At no point did I want to strike out 200 guys this season – that wasn’t a goal of mine. It was just keep us in games and win games, pitch deep. … I’ve always expected success of myself and for myself.”

After a disappointing end to their road trip, the Braves (91-55) swept the Phillies in this three-game series. The Braves remain one game behind the first-place Mets. Strider starred in Atlanta’s latest victory.

Jacob deGrom. Gerrit Cole. Sandy Alcantara. Justin Verlander. They are a handful of the game’s top starting pitchers. With Strider’s stuff, it is easy to see him eventually becoming part of that group.

“I think he’s right under deGrom, honestly,” Michael Harris said when asked to rank Strider’s stuff compared with pitchers he has faced. “He has the same kind of effect toward hitters that deGrom has. DeGrom’s really elite, so to put him up by somebody like that, it’s good for him. I just hope he continues to do it.”

On Sunday, Robbie Grossman asked the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins about Strider’s fastball. “It’s a really good 98 (mph), 100,” Hoskins told Grossman. It seems this has been the consensus around the sport as the 23-year-old has continued mowing down opposing lineups.

“You talk to guys around the league – that fastball is different,” manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s different, and that’s what they all say. You see it, and it’s different coming out. It’s got that ride.”

“Some of the swings he gets, you definitely can see guys are not comfortable up there, even when they know it’s coming,” Grossman said.

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As Strider dazzled on Sunday, Atlanta’s bats tried to break through. The Braves’ only run against Philadelphia’s Bailey Falter scored on Grossman’s double. But the offense kept grinding.

After Alec Bohm tied the game with a sixth-inning solo home run off Strider – the only hit Strider allowed – William Contreras launched a solo shot of his own in the bottom half. In the seventh, Grossman homered and Austin Riley added a run-scoring single as Atlanta provided insurance runs against the Phillies’ bullpen. In the eighth inning, Marcell Ozuna doubled home another run.

After Strider’s outing ended, Tyler Matzek (seventh inning) and A.J. Minter (eighth) pitched scoreless innings. Jesse Chavez gave up a two-out home run in the ninth but finished the game.

It all started with the rookie sensation who continues making everything look easy. Strider has a 2.67 ERA this season.

“It’s a good achievement,” Strider said of passing the 200-strikeout mark. “More interested in winning the games, so I would gladly sacrifice some of those strikeouts for maybe another inning, fewer pitches, not hanging a slider 0-0 there to Bohm in the sixth.”

In 2021, the Braves received a limited look at Strider, who climbed up the organizational ladder in one season. This spring, Strider broke camp with the Braves – as a reliever. During his time in the bullpen, Strider displayed his strikeout stuff. All along, the Braves viewed Strider as a starter.

In late May, they finally put him in the starting rotation.

He has not looked back since.

“It’s an awesome story,” Snitker said. “You just don’t see that a lot.”

At the beginning of September, Strider set an Atlanta record with 16 strikeouts in a game. He has tallied six double-digit strikeout games in 20 starts. He is a strikeout machine.

But Strider is more focused on the team than himself.

The good news on that: As a rookie, his team is in a pennant race. He will get to experience October.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” Strider said. “To get here in my first season, I’m extremely lucky to be in this position, and I’m very grateful that they’ve had so much faith in me and moved me up here as fast as they did and giving me this opportunity.”

Braves 5, Phillies 2 (box score)