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Entries in slider (10)


Darvish's Slider Makes Him Strikeout King

Legend has it that Satchel Paige was so confident in his ability to strike out batters that he would call his outfielders to the infield, inviting them to take a seat and bear witness to his greatness. You probably won't see Yu Darvish motion for Nelson Cruz any time soon, but you couldn't blame the Texas Rangers ace if he did.

Darvish has whiffed 72 hitters in 45.2 frames this season, a staggering 14.2 per nine innings pitched. His closest competitor among qualified starting pitchers is Max Scherzer, with a comparatively puny 12.4 K/9. Yu is punching out batters at a pace that even Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson couldn't manage in their primes, and he's doing it by throwing nearly twice as many sliders as he did last season.

As a rookie, Darvish threw his slider about 19% of the time. Batters swung and missed 44% of the time against the pitch, a mark bested only by Zack Greinke and Edwin Jackson among starters who threw at least 500 sliders. This year, Darvish has thrown his slider 37%. Hitters aren't catching on, though, whiffing at an even higher clip (46%).

Darvish has finished off 43 of the 72 batters he has struck out (60%) with a slider. The increase in sliders thrown is a major reason why Darvish's opponent contact rate has plummeted, particularly to the glove side: 

Darvish's contact rate by pitch location, 2012


Darvish's contact rate by pitch location, 2013

Yu has only made seven starts, but it's worth noting that no starting pitcher in history has ever punched out hitters at the clip he's currently managing over the course of a full season. Darvish's current K/9, if it were to hold up, would put Pedro and The Big Unit to shame. Kinda makes you wonder if the Rangers need outfielders on the day Darvish pitches.

Highest single-season K/9 for qualified starters



Brandon Morrow's Slider

With a 2.38 ERA and .912 WHIP, Brandon Morrow seems to be off to a great start for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.  However, his 4.33 FIP may indicate he's in line for some regression soon.

What's interesting about Morrow's season so far is that he's been recording the majority of his outs on sliders, while his fastball has been getting hit fairly hard.  Through his first six starts, Morrow's fastball has a .397 wOBA against, and his .681 slugging percentage against is third worst in baseball. All seven of the home runs yielded by Morrow have come off the fastball, as well as eight of ten doubles.

Click image to enlargeBy contrast, Morrow's slider has just a .107 wOBA against.  Batters are only making contact on 60.5% of their swings on his slider, compared to 91.3% on his fastball.

Morrow's slider is hitting the strike zone 41.4% of the time.  Batters are chasing his slider out of the zone 39.0% of the time; eventually, they'll lay off the pitch more and sit on the fastball, which could precipitate that regression.


InDepth Recap: Jered Weaver's 15K Day

Jered Weaver set a career high yesterday by striking out 15 batters in 7 2/3 innings.  Here's where he was putting his pitches versus the Jays:

Jered Weaver vs. Toronto Blue Jays (4/10/11)
(Click to enlarge)

It helped that Jered only had to face 6 left-handed batters all game.  He was able to hit that outside edge against them and yielded one hit, an infield single to Travis Snider.  

Coming into the game, batters made contact on 76.2 percent of Weaver's pitches.  Yesterday, the Blue Jays only made contact on 51.9 percent.  He had them off balance all game, recording 6 strike outs on fastballs, 6 on sliders, 2 on curveballs, and 1 on a changeup. 

Weaver's off-speed pitches were filthy yesteday.  Jays' hitters posted a miniscule 20.0 percent contact rate on the 35 sliders thrown by Jered, compared to the 71.2 percent contact rate batters have produced on his slider since 2008. 

PitchFX data indicates that since 2008, Weaver's slider tends to cross the plate with 16.8 feet per second of downward velocity.  Yesterday, it averaged 17.4 ft/s of downward movement.  He also had a BrkZ average of .9 on his slider entering the game.  Against the Jays yesterday it came in at -.4.  He was simply getting much more movement on the pitch, resulting in a lot of whiffs from opposing batters.