Jacob deGrom has one of the most ridiculous sliders ever thrown in baseball.
New York Mets‘ starting pitcher Jacob deGrom has 173 starts in his career. He has given up one earned run or less in 81 of those appearances. That’s 46 percent of his starts which is absolutely absurd. How has he done it? Well, he has one of the most powerful pitches in all of baseball.
The average major league fastball clocks in at 93.4 MPH, deGrom throws his slider at an average of 93.5 MPH. That’s over five MPH faster than Gerrit Cole’s slider on average. deGrom throws his slider harder than most people’s fastball, just think about that for a second. If you want to be the best pitcher in baseball then it helps to have a pitch like that in your arsenal.
The craziest part about his pitch repertoire is that he used to be a five-pitch pitcher. Up until 2018, he would throw a sinker and curveball in addition to his fastball, changeup and slider. He cut his sinker and curveball out of his sequence and that’s when everything changed for him.
It’s not just the speed that makes Jacob deGrom’s slider so special
If you think about it, he’s really a two-pitch pitcher because he only throws his changeup to left-handed batters or 16 percent of the time since 2018. The active spin rate on his slider according to Baseball Savant has clocked in at an average of 2485 RPMs. For reference, New York Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman’s fastball has an active spin rate of 2484 RPMs. deGrom somehow managed to max out his slider at 3116 RPM’s in his last start against the Boston Red Sox.
deGrom has thrown his slider 46 times in 2020, it has a negative one-degree launch angle against and a xwOBA of .157 against so far this season. It helps that so far in this shortened season he has increased the spin rate and whiff percentage, along with dramatically decreasing his wOBA, xSLG and xBA against the pitch.
What makes the pitch so effective is that while it has elite vertical movement it’s even better In terms of horizontal movement. His horizontal movement is 3.4 percent above the major league average. Last season it had below-average vertical movement and barely above average horizontal movement.
It’s easy to go on all day about the nuances of deGrom’s slider. The spin rate, the velocity, the break or even his pinpoint location. He generally only throws the pitch to right-handed batters and you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than him leaving it over the heart of the plate because he’s only done it six times so far this season.
deGrom is on a quest for a third straight Cy Young Award and with a seemingly improved slider this season it’s going to be hard for any pitcher to overtake him in the National League.