San Diego Padres AM Talk: Domination With The Slider

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27: Matt Strahm #55 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Dodger Stadium on May 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27: Matt Strahm #55 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Dodger Stadium on May 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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San Diego Padres AM Talk: So many pitchers, so many amazing sliders.

Monday was a big day for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, with both teams taking advantage of a Seattle Mariners fire sale and making the National League East even more competitive than it already is. As for the San Diego Padres, it was all quiet on the western front.

The only note to come out of San Diego was more confirmation from The Athletic’s Dennis Lin that the Padres are interested in signing World Series champion pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to a deal this offseason. We took a look at this idea a few weeks ago, which you can read below.

Nathan Eovaldi A Target Of The Padres. light. Related Story

With the rumor mill silent in San Diego, for this morning’s AM Talk, I decided to take a look at a few dominating sliders from a select group of exciting young San Diego Padres pitchers. Originally, this was just a matter of reading a bunch of old articles about Matt Strahm, but it led me down a rabbit hole that I just kept following.

Over the course of the 2018 MLB season, 327 pitchers had at least 25 balls in play against their slider. Four San Diego Padres pitchers ranked in the top 43 in batting average against the pitch (all numbers below are from Baseball Savant).

For reference, three players tied for the league lead in this metric with a .031 average against their slider and 58% of pitchers saw hitters tag their pitch for a .200 average or higher. Recently signed starting pitcher Garrett Richards sat just ahead of Patrick Corbin with a .144 BAA. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Robbie Erlin finished 310th on this list.

Major league hitters who find themselves with two strikes and facing Strahm or Stock didn’t stand much of a chance. Opposing hitters went a combined 1-59 against the duo when they fired a slider to end the at-bat. The one hit was a single by Taylor Ward off Stram, an innocently hit line drive that fell in front of Travis Jankowski out in right field.

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Weak contact was a common thread here, with four Padres pitchers ranking in the top 44 (top 10% of all pitchers who had at least 10 balls in play against their slider).

  • #5 Matt Strahm- 78.1 mph exit velocity
  • #8 Robert Stock- 78.9 mph EV
  • #28 Phil Maton– 81.0 mph EV
  • #44 Eric Lauer– 82.1 mph EV

Weak contact, high whiff rates, and low on-base numbers led to a dominant San Diego Padres bullpen, with most possessing a lethal slider used to end at-bats. Hopefully, fans see more of this in 2019 and some this bullpen success can rub off on the starting rotation.

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Enjoy your Tuesday, San Diego. FYI, Yusei Kikuchi was officially posted at 5 am PST this morning. Let the games begin!

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