That Shawn Kelley Slider

So many potentially memorable things happened during the game last night, some of them good and some of them bad. But for whatever reason the one image I can't shake is that of Shawn Kelley striking out Justin Upton with a 3-and-2 slider in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two out, so I have prepared .gifs. Stare at them in wonderment.

Kelley, incidentally, is having one of those seasons where his numbers are better than it might feel like they are. Over 20 appearances, he's struck out 21 dudes while unintentionally walking just four dudes. He's also intentionally walked three dudes and allowed 22 hits, so it's not like Kelley has been lights-out, but his numbers suggest that he's a slightly underrated part of the bullpen, which Kelley will probably forever be for as long as he's healthy and throwing the same stuff. He'll allow just enough hits and home runs to feel like more of a liability than he is, although it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he developed a third pitch he could throw to lefties.

I'm getting off subject. Right now, 405 different pitchers have thrown at least ten innings this season. Lucas Luetge has thrown 50 percent sliders, which ranks sixth-highest overall. Shawn Kelley has thrown 50.9 percent sliders, which ranks fourth-highest overall. Kelley's no Luke Gregerson or Sergio Romo in that regard, but he throws his slider a lot more than almost anyone else, and it's because his slider can be devastating. His slider velocity and movement are back to where they used to be when he first joined the Mariners, and while Kelley will hang the pitch from time to time, other times something like this will happen.

By PITCHf/x, better than two-thirds of Kelley's sliders this season have been strikes. Batters have swung at 80 of them, and they've swung through 27 of them. I don't have any league-wide context for those numbers, but hey, look, numbers. And whiffs! Here is a whiff. And a slow-motion replay of the whiff. Beautiful pitch.

Kelleyupton1

Kelleyupton2

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