Whenever an organization undergoes significant changes, specifically at the general manager (or higher) level, one can’t help but search for patterns in the way things are done. What type of players are arriving? What type of players are being sent packing? What tools are held in highest regard by the organization?
Between Jerry Dipoto’s surprising transparency and a flurry of moves, we’ve come to understand several patterns forming in Seattle. They love young, athletic outfielders. College pitchers who pound the strike zone will get drafted. Players must embrace the defensive shift or they will be on the next flight to whichever city will trade for them. Everybody love everybody.
And now here we are, two off-seasons into the Dipoto era and another pattern is beginning to take shape out in the bullpen: all pitchers who throw sliders are welcome in the Emerald City.
Here is a look at every reliever on the 40-man who pitched in the majors in 2016, with their slider usage, slider velocity and slider value all tacked on (Note: the numbers are taken from Pitchf/x)
Not pictured here are Thyago Vieira and Paul Fry, the two 40-man relievers who haven’t reached the big leagues yet. Vieira hits triple digits in his sleep, so we’ll let his lack of the slider, er, slide, and Fry’s slider is a legitimate out-pitch that is well-regarded by scouts (it was a big reason for that shiny 10.64 K/9 he posted in 2016).
To get back to those who are on the chart, you can see ten of the eleven relievers have a slider in their arsenal and every single one of those ten pitchers threw it a quarter of the time or more. Even if we decide to not count Nick Vincent and Casey Fein due to their ‘slider’ being more of a cutter that behaves like a slider, you still have eight of eleven–a fairly decent amount.
Even more important, Dipoto doesn’t seem to be going after guys who just happen to throw a slider, he’s compiling a group of guys who throw it often and throw it well. Let’s take a look.
It feels like we never saw Tony Zych in 2016, but he was still very capable of twirling these beauties:
Whenever Edwin Diaz’s fastball wan’t working for him, he reached back and made magic happen:
Dan Altavilla’s slider still needs some work, but being able to throw it 92 mph helps a little:
When Steve Cishek is on, he does the baseball equivalent of dunking on hitters with his slider:
Newcomer James Pazos has a ridiculous offering when he can control it.
And oh yeah, new guy Shae Simmons can do this:
It’s the year of the slider in Seattle.
Make it rain.