Pitching Backwards With The Slider, When to Do So

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pitching backwards with the Slider Because hitters are always taught not to not get beat by the fastball, pitching backwards with the Slider has the ability to make a hitter’s head explode.  Hitters can only protect against one half of the strike zone.  Whether it is in or out, up or down, they are incredibly vulnerable (and sensitive) creatures.  So it is your job to expose that…Why Not?  It’s Fun!

The trends of MLB pitching nowadays show that pitchers do not rely on their fastball as much as in the past.  There are a number of factors that go into that, which will be touched on in another post.  Many pitchers throw their fastball under 50% of the time.  They are relying on change of speed and movement to compliment their velocity in order to get hitters out.  

In this post on Pitching backwards with the Slider, I am going to reference a video which I made from the 2016 AL Wild Card Game.  Toronto Blue Jays reliever Jason Grilli makes quick work on Baltimore’s Adam Jones as he pitches backwards using the Slider.  This was a high intensity situation in the 8th inning of the Winner Take All game.

As you have watched from the video above, the pitch sequence went:

1st Pitch Slider Swinging
2nd Pitch Slider Check Swing Strike
3rd Pitch Slider Ball
4th Pitch High Fastball Swinging


Pitching Backwards with the Slider
The Free Swinger

This one is a no brainer.  When a hitter is going to swing at the first pitch regardless, why throw him a strike?  He will chase whatever you throw.  An 0-1 count is what every pitcher wants.  Most free swingers are dead fastball hitters, so you can bury them pretty easily.  Depending on how well a free swinger can make adjustments, you may have already won the at bat from throwing a 1st pitch Slider.  This makes it easier to expand the zone against these hitters, especially the ones who remain aggressive with 2 strikes.  

Pitching Backwards with the Slider
2nd Time Seeing a Hitter

pitching backwards with the Slider Pitching is about making adjustments, thus forcing hitters to adjust to you.  Have I ever mentioned on this blog, that the pitcher always has the Dominant Hand?  Well, maybe once or twice… Whether it is the second time through the lineup for you, or you are facing a hitter again within a few days, it is good to change your approach.  

The first pitch in the video, Grilli threw Jones a good, teasing Slider.  He started it out, up over the plate, looking like a fastball. Jones bit on it as it dived sharply down and away from the zone.  He thought that he was getting a straight one in his nitro zone.  Therefore he swung like it, quickly realizing that he guessed wrong.  

The 2nd pitch Grilli got him again with the Slider.  This time with a check swing that Jones couldn’t hold up on.  Clearly, Jones was not expecting him to double up on the Slider, though he did.

When you get to 0-2 without throwing a fastball and the hitter had a bad approach on both pitches, you can go anywhere from here.  And for the love of Rolaids, do not lose this hitter once you get 0-2! Grilli followed up with a 3rd straight Slider down & away. The pitch as just as sharp as the previous 2 Sliders, this time Jones laid off.  

Pitching Backwards with the Slider
Once You Get to 2 Strikes

pitching backwards with the Slider Now that Adam Jones has seen 3 straight Sliders breaking down and away, forcing him to look out over the plate and dive out over the plate, where to go now?  Since he hasn’t seen a fastball yet, you have options.   If you stay away with the fastball, there is a good chance that the hitter will be late. Another option is to go inside with the fastball.  

The hitter will be very late because of 3 reasons.

  1. The increase in velocity from a Slider to Fastball.
  2. The hitter’s thought that you may stay away again with the Slider is still in the back his head.
  3. And then the Ultimate in Lateness, is being locked up on the fastball inside because the hesitation makes the hitter unable to pull the trigger.  

As we are referring to Pitching Backwards with the Slider, the lets add in the Backwards ʞ.

In the case of option #3, don’t throw the pitch on the inner half.  Throw it on the black.  If you miss in, you are still in good shape.   Inner half with a fastball is a pitch that a hitter wants to tee off on in any count.  

Hard In, Soft (Softer) Away will get hitters out at any level. MLB Included.  It is a proven pitch sequence to implement in bullpens and simulated games.  Even in visualization techniques.  

Here, Grilli went with the high fastball with a good run on it. The veteran righty simply changed eye levels and velocity together.  Nothing the All Star Centerfielder could have done once he committed to swing.  


Pitching Backwards with the Slider
What You are Feeling That Day

Some days you just won’t be able to establish your fastball effectively.  It happens to all of us.  Therefore you have to make adjustments to stay in the game.  Rather if you can locate you Slider better one day, why not run with it?  Your endeavor is based off of making pitches in the strike zone.  When you pitch backwards with your Slider, the longer you don’t show the hitter the fastball, the more insecure he will become.  Because he knows that he is going to get it at some point in the at bat.

However, subconsciously, he knows that the breaking balls and off speed pitches are slowing down his bat.  He still wants to see a fastball, yet will struggle with it when it is not in his nitro zone.  This tactic makes the hitter indecisive.  I mean, he already has enough doubts once he gets to 0-2…So why not?

Pitching Backwards with the Slider

Old School vs New School Mentality

pitching backwards with the Slider When in doubt, throw a fastball, right?  Ideally, there is nothing wrong with it.  Most coaches won’t get mad at you when you get beat on a fastball.  Nonetheless, when you are not feeling the fastball, you need to throw something else.  In the new way of thinking, when you hear the pep talk of Challenge the Hitter, you can challenge him with whatever pitch you want.  You have the ball, you are in control.  Which is why your position is #1.  The game revolves around you.  Thrive in that Dominance.  Hitters don’t get say.  They are forced to adjust.

WATCH: How Clayton Kershaw Pitches Backwards

The term challenging hitters, means not nibbling. Not pitching around.  Aggressively going at hitters in the strike zone.  You have to throw the Slider aggressively to be successful with it.  Pitching Backwards with the Slider is not feeble by any means.  You are just setting up hitters a different way….staying ahead of competition.

Keep Dominating!!!


About the Author

Brad Kirsch Slider Domination Brad Kirsch is the Owner/Creator of Slider Domination. He is a former professional pitcher who blogs about all things Pitching. Brad has also authored the AudioBook, 7 Reasons Why YOU Should Throw a Slider. If you haven’t done so already, you can Download the AudioBook Here

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