SLIDER SPOTLIGHT: Clayton Kershaw’s Dominant Slider

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HE’S BACK!!! As the Dodgers have run away with the NL West without him, the Best in the game has returned from the DL after missing 39 days.  Clayton Kershaw is back and hasn’t missed a beat. His Dominant arsenal was on full display in his return on Friday, September 1 vs the Padres.  Most would assume that it is his big curveball that makes him so darn good.  However, he throws his Slider twice as much as Uncle Charlie.

In this post we are going to break down how he uses his Slider to get 46% of his strikeouts.  And how we always spoltlight pitchers at the SD Blog, in DOMINANT fashion, of course!!!!  It is all we know how to deliver to you…


Clayton Kershaw's Dominant Slider


Clayton Kershaw’s Dominant Slider Victim #1
Yangervis Solarte

2nd Inning, Right Handed Hitting Solarte was Kershaw’s 1st strikeout of the game.  Here was the pitch sequence:

1st Pitch: A big, get me over curveball for a strike.

2nd Pitch: Missed away with a fastball.

3rd Pitch: Another patented Big Curveball for which Kershaw is well known.  This was also a called strike.  A bit generous? Yes of course.  However, when you are the Best in the World at what you do, naturally, you will get some calls to go your way.
Now it is a 1-2 count.  So far he has gone Curveball, Fastball, Curveball.  All of these pitches have been middle-away to off the plate.

4th Pitch:  Here comes the Slider!  You know the rest!  Kershaw starts the Slider out in the middle of the plate, as it breaks sharp, late, and quick.  Kershaw did everything correct in his mechanics and the release, therefore, the Slider takes care of itself.  Solarte thought fastball, and swung fastball, thus swung right over the top of the Slider.


Clayton Kershaw’s Dominant Slider Victim #2
Jose Pirela

4th Inning: Right Handed Hitting Jose Pirela was the middle at bat this inning of Kershaw striking out the side.

1st Pitch:  Slider Missed Down and In.  Moved the hitter’s feet

2nd Pitch: Great Back Door Slider.  Looked like a fastball the entire way until the end.  Pirella missed it by a mile.

3rd Pitch: Change Up. Missed away of the plate

4th Pitch:  Another Great Slider that ends up down in the dirt.  Pirela takes another healthy hack.

5th Pitch:  Big Curveball again in the dirt that Pirella swings and misses.

Jose Pirela is clearly a free swinger.  Don’t make a mistake to these hitters, and they will usually get themselves out.  As a result, Kershaw was not going throw him a fastball unless he needed to do so.  Clearly, he couldn’t made adjustments to the breaking balls and got himself out.  When he took an aggressive swing at the Slider down and out of the zone, why not change speeds even more and add the bigger curveball break?

He swung at 3 pitches that ended up down and out of the zone.  Is this repeated flaw a Poor Approach by the hitter or Dominance by Kershaw?  You Decide!


Clayton Kershaw’s Dominant Slider Victim #3
Corey Spangenberg


5th Inning: Left Handed Hitting Corey Spangenberg.  The always tough Lefty vs Lefty match up against Kershaw.

1st Pitch:  Slider starts out at Spangenberg, then breaks over the plate.  He gets just enough to foul it off.

2nd Pitch:  Another Slider. This is a good one.  Breaks down and away from the zone.  Spangenberg stays on it well.  Nonetheless, you can’t stay with this kind of break all the way through the zone.

3rd Pitch:  Slider missed away.  Great location at 0-2.  Just off the plate, trying to get the hitter to swing at the pitch.

4th Pitch:  Fastball Up & In.  Forced the hitter to pull his hands back.
Where do you thing Kershaw will go now will go on this next pitch?

5th Pitch:  You Guessed It!!!!  Slider Down & Away, Swing and Miss!!!  Just like the 2nd pitch, Spangenberg stayed on the Slider well, yet the pitch is going to miss bats a vast majority of the time!    The Simple approach of Hard In, Soft Away.  Just another victim for the Best in the Game! 


Clayton Kershaw’s
Dominant Slider

Clayton Kershaw's Dominant Slider

In his first start since July 23, Kershaw looked as sharp as ever.  Having full command of his arsenal of pitches.  Kershaw went an efficient 6 Innings on just 70 Pitches, Striking out 7.  Lowering his ERA to 1.95.  He knows that sub 2 range inside and out.  He throws the Slider both early and ahead in the count.  He makes the Dominant Pitch look like the fastball coming out of his hand as he starts it down in the zone.  Hitters can’t tell the difference.

Combining the Slider with his notable big breaking curveball, he uses each to compliment the other in taking hitters off the fastball.  Now mind you that Kershaw’s fastball is not overpowering in velocity by today’s standards.  Usually between 92-95.  His Slider has an average velocity of 88 and the Curveball at 73.  The difference and velocity between the 3 pitches and the ability to locate them all impeccably is part of what makes him a $215 Million pitcher.

Clayton Kershaw's Dominant Slider

Take the 39 day stint on the DL with back issues as a blessing Dodger fans.  You could begin flying the Division Champs flag in Chavez Ravine by early July.  The man will be well rested to carry the heavy demand of innings and short rest that is expected from the best.  I am sure that he very much appreciates the addition of fellow Slider Dominator, Yu Darvish as his #2 going into October.  Let’s not forget Kershaw’s No-Brainer selection to our Team USA Starting rotation.

Despite his absence of almost 3 fortnights, Clayton Kershaw still leads the National League in Wins.  As always, he is a front runner for his 4th Cy Young Award.  Watch the Full Video Breakdown from this Game.   



Keep Dominating!!!!

Clayton Kershaw’s Dominant Slider

About the Author

Brad Kirsch Slider DominationBrad 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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