Stephen Strasburg‘s slider was a short-lived experiment filled with mostly disappointing results.
Strasburg never used to throw a slider. From 2010 to 2013, the right-hander relied solely on his fastball, changeup and curveball. That wasn’t enough, however, as he developed a slider during this past offseason with the intent of making the pitch game-ready in spring training.
He deemed it so following his final spring start, and that has proven to be a pretty big mistake.
Courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net, we can see just how ineffective that pitch was in his arsenal. In 10 starts (61.1 innings) Strasburg threw his slider just 47 times. For all of you non-math people, that’s approximately one slider every 1.3 innings. It also accounted for about .05% of his total pitches on the year (961).
So, yeah, he didn’t throw it a lot.
Shockingly, the results on the pitch have been all or nothing. He has thrown 47 sliders in 11 at-bats. Five of those were strikeouts. Four of those were singles. One of them was a home run. Just one was an out from a ball put in play. Opponents hit .455 on the pitch.
That’s simply inexcusable. Strasburg made a poor decision by adding the pitch to his arsenal. He was successful without the pitch. His curveball moves away from right-handed batters as it is. There was no need to add that pitch.
Thankfully, Strasburg is done with it.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post points out that Strasburg threw no sliders for the fourth-straight start:
Less than two months into the season, Strasburg has abandoned his newest tool and reverted to a three-pitch attack. Monday night, he used no sliders for the fourth consecutive start. While Manager Matt Williams said Strasburg has not “eliminated” the pitch, he has told his catchers that for now he doesn’t want to throw it.
Williams likely said the pitch was not “eliminated” from the arsenal so opposing teams will keep it in the back of their minds. But, by all accounts, the pitch is dead. BrooksBaseball.net provides an interesting graphic on how the usage of the pitch has declined since Opening Day:
The pitch is dead in my book—and it should stay that way. Strasburg is much better off without it.