Throughout the offseason, I’ll be sharing a series on Tribe Strengths, highlighting one area in which each player excels. Up next is Carlos Carrasco and his dominant slider.
Carlos Carrasco has developed into one of the best starting pitchers in the AL over the past two seasons, and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting in 2017. One of the reasons for his development has been his perfecting of his slider, which has turned into one of the most dominant pitches in all of baseball.
In 2017, opposing hitters whiffed on 56.4 percent of their swings against Carrasco’s slider—the highest rate among sliders thrown by starting pitchers.
Carrasco’s slider has always been good, but his whiff rate skyrocketed up from 41.9 percent in 2016.
A drastic jump in the numbers like this can sometimes just be dumb luck, but there’s reason to think Carrasco’s improvement is connected to a change in how he throws the pitch. Carrasco’s slider had a significant drop in speed in 2017, while also seeing a substantial rise in spin. Here’s a look at those numbers over the past few seasons:
It will be fun to watch Carrasco this spring to see if he’s able to carry over this success from the 2017 season. Assuming the changes to his slider were intentional, it’s likely that he can to build upon that success and continue to be a second ace on the Tribe’s staff behind Corey Kluber.