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Entries in slider (10)

Wednesday
Apr062011

L.A. Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw: Early Season Pitch Breakdown

Clayton Kershaw's slider is arguably his best pitch.  Fangraphs has it at 22.3 runs above average over the course of his career.  He's off to a good start with the pitch this season, as batters have managed one hit on 27 swings.  He's also struck out nine batters on sliders and they've put up a 48.1% contact rate overall against them.

Kershaw's fastball has given him a little trouble this season.  In his last start in Colorado, Kershaw allowed two home runs on fastballs, and both were pitches up in the zone. 

Clayton Kershaw's Fastball
(Click to enlarge)
PVELBrkXBrkZContact%
2008-10132393.8-2.311.683.3%
201111993.3-0.210.284.6%

It looks like Kershaw's fastball is coming in a little flatter than in previous seasons. The HRs to Chris Ianetta and Troy Tulowitzki were located in the upper middle portion of the zone and had BrkX readings of under -1.0. Batters have put up an expected wOBA of .323 so far against Kershaw's fastball, compared to his previous three season expected wOBA of .291. But with only two starts worth of fastballs to compare, it's obviously much too early to draw any significant conclusions from the data.

Friday
Apr012011

InDepth Recap: CC Sabathia's Opening Day Slider

CC Sabathia's Slider Location
(Click to enlarge)

Sabathia didn't have his best slider in the Yankees' opener yesterday. His location was off as it hung up in the zone quite a bit. Over the last three seasons, batters have made contact on his slider 56.1 percent of the time. On 24 sliders yesterday afternoon, the Tigers made contact 77.8 percent, primarily on pitches in the strike zone. Obviously, it's only one game's worth of data, but it was clear he wasn't able to keep the pitch down like he normally does.

BrkX and BrkZ values provided by PitchFX measure the number of inches the ball moves horizontally and vertically as a result of the spin on the ball read from when it is 40 ft from home plate. Sabathia traditionally gets about 5.1 inches of BrkX (horizontal) movement on his slider. Yesterday it averaged 2.8 inches. From 2008-2010, PitchFX data has Sabathia throwing 2060 sliders in regular and postseason games combined. Only 450 of those sliders have had a BrkX reading less than 3.0.

One game's worth of data is not enough to draw any significant conclusions on one pitch. Besides, it was cold, and CC usually takes a few starts to get going. If he's still hanging his slider up in the zone in a couple weeks, then it might be time to worry.

Sunday
Mar062011

Chad Billingsley's Slider

Chad Billingsley' slider was a valuable pitch for the right-hander last season.  He also throws a cutter and the two pitches can sometimes be mistaken for one another.  But last season, his slider showed more downward movement than in the past, something that seemed to have benefited him.

Chad Billingsley's Slider
PVX PVZwOBAexp-wOBAK%exp-K%
20087.4-13.9.213.25925.7%30.1%
20097.8-14.4.284.29923.5%28.4%
20106.7-18.1.225.26038.9%35.4%

The average downward velocity on his slider increased 3.7 feet per second from 2009 to 2010. His K-rate and expected K-rate jumped from his 2009 numbers. It looks like he wasn't getting as good a result on the pitch in 2009 as compared to the year before. Perhaps a slight change in his mechanics in 2010 increased the downward movement on the pitch, or he may have scrapped his approach altogether and went with something completely new. Whatever it was, it seems to be working as batters were striking out more on the pitch.