Journaling has become important part of Braves pitcher Spencer Strider’s routine

Braves pitcher Spencer Strider (65) delivers a pitch in the seventh inning Monday, March 11, 2022 at Truist Park. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Braves pitcher Spencer Strider (65) delivers a pitch in the seventh inning Monday, March 11, 2022 at Truist Park. (Daniel Varnado/For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

After he exits a game, Braves pitcher Spencer Strider heads into the clubhouse and heads to his journal, which he keeps in his locker at home and on the road.

He’ll write exactly what he’s thinking and feeling at that moment, having just logged his latest outing.

“A way of sort of taking your subjective thoughts and having a way to compare them to objective data,” Strider said Thursday. “When you go back and watch a game a day later or two days later, you’re going to see things that you didn’t notice for sure in the game, in the moment. But when you come out of the game, it’s fresh, it’s right there.”

Strider began journaling after undergoing Tommy John surgery. If you’ve read about Strider in this space, you know that his rehab from that procure – and his work with Cory Shaffer, who is Clemson’s sport psychologist – helped define his future. Strider appreciates purpose. In addition to the “what,” he wants to know the “why.”

Journaling helps him with this.

For example, he noticed that he was sometimes completely wrong about certain things that he believed occurred while he was on the mound. Perhaps he made up a pitch in his head, but never actually threw it.

“That’s good stuff to know,” Strider said. “Just how your brain works and how I can help see the game objectively while it’s going on, not just afterwards.”

Strider writes in the journal before games, too. Last season, Strider began using his journal as a way to track his routine. In 2021, he threw over 50 innings for the first time since high school, which led to some fatigue. He wanted to figure out a way to condense his routine and conserve energy.

Well, he said, simply walking into the weight room and doing less wasn’t going to cut it because he would have had no direction. (And again, Strider does everything with purpose). So he wanted to find out how long each step of his routine would take.

Strider loves having a routine. He’s methodical. But he said he’s not stubborn enough to ignore when his routine needs tweaks.

Through his journal, he blends his subjectivity with objectivity.

“Results aren’t everything, but you do need to sort of find a way to correlate how I’m feeling, how I’m doing things, how I’m getting X and Y to be Z,” he said.

Here’s how it would work, Strider said, with journaling about routines:

“If the goal was to condense my routine to conserve energy, then I – very detailed – write down what I did in my routine, what it is, plan it out and then keep track of how I stuck to that plan. And then, combine that with postgame, how I felt, what my energy level is like. And I can map that over the course of several starts and then figure out, ‘OK, what can I cut out? Does this need to get shorter or does it need to get longer? Were my legs feeling too tight? Was my upper body feeling too tight? Am I feeling too loose? Did I spend too much time on something?’”

Strider, who will start Friday versus the Pirates, has a 2.76 ERA over 32-2/3 innings. He began the season in the bullpen, but has pitched too well for the Braves to leave him there.

“His work ethic, consistency in what he does, the confidence, everything, is really impressive for a young guy, first year,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Strider, who only played one full season of professional baseball before breaking camp with the big club this year.

Among the reasons he is successful: He has a process for anything and everything.

That includes utilizing his journal, which helps him figure out what actually happened. The example he used: If he were tired but pitched well, he would be less inclined to believe his energy levels were low.

The journal – penned by him – provides truth on everything.

“Results can mask over a lot of what’s really going on,” Strider said. “If you want consistency and you want longevity, you have to find a way to put objectivity into everything.”

Matzek update

Tyler Matzek on Thursday said his MRI revealed an impingement in his left shoulder. He was thankful there was no structural damage, he said.

He has played catch for a week. He hopes to throw off the mound next week.

He must progress through the throwing progression before heading out on a rehab assignment.

D’Arnaud returns

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Thursday returned to the lineup.

He was hit by a pitch in the forearm in Sunday’s win over Colorado. His forearm swelled, which is why he missed the past two games.