If you watched last night’s game against the Astros, you probably noticed this at-bat in the fourth inning:
That’s Chris Johnson — who at that moment was probably hating his life — trying to hit a 88 mile per hour slider from Bumgarner that was absolutely buried down and in. We’ve written a lot about Madison Bumgarner and his slider this season, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive to watch him use the pitch. He’ll often throw it inside on right-handed batters, making it a difficult pitch to get solid wood on. No other starting pitcher has thrown the slider more than Bumgarner this year. Among qualified starters, Bumgarner has thrown his slider 36.4 percent of the time, making him a veritable slider machine. For comparison, the league average starter (qualified, 95 in our sample) throws the slider 14.2 percent of the time. Bumgarner is throwing his slider over two times more than the league average SP.
It’s a great pitch.
When I think about my favorite pitches in baseball, I tend to think about Romo’s slider, Rivera’s cutter, Strasburg’s everything, and probably Dickey’s knuckleball, just because it’s so unique, but Bumgarner’s slider is quickly becoming a strong candidate to make the ‘favorite pitches’ list. It’s not necessarily a pitch that’ll “wow” you each time you see it, but it’s sharp, biting, and thrown over and over. And, as we’ve seen above, it can make batters take some of the weirdest hacks you’ll ever see.
And, really, isn’t “taking weird hacks” the signature of a great pitch?
/looks back at .GIF
I think so.