Because You Ask Yourself: When Should I Throw a Slider?

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when should I throw a Slider

Plain and simple, if you are feeling it, throw it.  Conviction is everything as a pitcher. When you throw the Slider correctly, needless to say, the rest takes care of itself. Hitters know this embarrassing result all too well. Nonetheless, never underestimate the strategic element of pitching.  The mindset of When in doubt, throw a fastball does indeed work.  However, since you yourself want to be the best, let’s get more advanced with our approach and crush the hopes and aspirations of hitters. We are going to skip over the Pedro Cerrano’s of the world who flat out can’t hit a breaking ball.  Too self-explanatory.  Since, because you ask yourself, When Should I Throw a Slider? Here are 5 situations when to ‘UnLeash’ your Nastiest of Pitches.


When Should I Throw a Slider?
The Free Swinger

when should I throw a Slider

This one is also a bit of a no brainer.  I touched on it in the Slider Spotlight: Clayton Kershaw Breakdown post.  There is no reason to throw these hitters a fastball, let alone a strike.  Their lack of plate discipline is very noticeable. When the undisciplined hitter is unable to make the necessary adjustments, it is their eventual demise. Anyways, that is their problem.  Your job is to enjoy exploiting it.  

This also goes for the automatic first pitch swinger.  He usually falls into the same category.  The free swinger is a mistake hitter.  When you miss in a spot that they can do some damage, the good ones will.  With the exceptions of Vladimir Guerrero and Yogi Berra, among others, the sooner that you can bury the hitter behind in the count, and force him to figure it out, the better you position yourself.

When Should I Throw a Slider?
When the Hitter has Your Fastball 

When should I throw a Slider

This comes in a variety of situations.  The first one being, the more that the hitter sees your fastball, the more he will time your fastball.  We all know that.  So you have to mix it up.  The next is when the hitter fouls your fastball straight back.  You certainly can’t double up with a fastball after that result.  Mind you that the hitter is at your mercy at this point.  Anything other than a fastball that is well located would be effective.  The change of speeds, change of eye levels and change of movement all play in your favor.  

The allure of the Slider is that it is designed to look like a fastball coming out of the hand.  So when a hitter just misses your fastball and fouls it straight back to the screen, and thinks that he is getting another one on the next pitch, his eyes light up until he realizes that he has another thing coming.  


When Should I Throw a Slider?
When You Cannot Locate Your Fastball

when should I throw a Slider

We are all going to have days, or even just innings, where we can’t get ahead with the fastball.  It happens.  Then you have to go to something else that will be in the strike zone.  So when #1 is off, what is your Plan B?  Keep in mind that we throw the fastball more subconsciously.  We don’t think about it.  Just grip it and let it rip.  It is how we have been throwing the baseball our whole lives.  

Now for secondary pitches, we have more of a mental checklist to follow to make sure we doing everything correctly.  Therefore, if you fit into this mold, throwing a Slider will force you to focus more on your command. Much of falling behind hitters is simply of lack of concentration.  Switch gears to your secondary pitches to help you get back on track.  

Putting it to use.  Say you fall behind 2-0. You missed with 2 fastballs.  What is the hitter looking for now?  1 spot only.  Right down the middle most likely.  Now Start a Slider there and let it break down and out of the zone as the hitter takes a vicious, yet soon to be guilty swing at it. It changes the at bat very quickly, doesn’t it….?


When Should I Throw a Slider?
The Hitter Pulls Off

When should I throw a Slider

This is also an easy one.  You know the old little league saying, He is stepping in the bucket.  Which means, that he can’t even dream about even reaching anything on the outer half of the plate.  He is beyond a dead pull hitter with a lot of cold areas in the strike zone on his scouting report.  Very simply exploit him and force him to make an adjustment.  If you can go away with your pitches and he actually dives out over the plate after them without rolling over on any, then come back inside with a fastball.

No matter who he is, he can only protect one side of the plate.  Once you have him looking away, it most likely is a lost cause to him when you come back inside.  He is not going to be as quick as he once was on cheating to hit the fastball inside.  Thus, the 70% failure rate among the best.

One other situation.  When a hitter pulls your fastball, home run distance, yet foul, it is obvious where you go now.  Hard inside, Soft (Softer) Away is a scouting report to get hitters out at any level.  Use the ‘Almost a Dinger’ to your advantage.  Want to mess with him even more?  Of course you do.  You are a Dominator!  

So if it is Righty vs Righty, or Lefty vs Lefty, and a hitter turns on your fastball and just misses a home run foul, the natural instinct is to go away.  Now throw a change up down and in.  That’s right, come back in.  Chances are he had to guess right on the location and maybe even cheat to get to catch up to your fastball.  That alone slows down your change up even more.  Throw it correctly, and he will look stupid….Oh you better believe he will…


When Should I Throw a Slider?
Full Count

3-2 Slider

This is another case of pitching with sheer conviction.  A 3-2 Slider is walking the tight rope and knowing that you will succeed.  It is what every fearless competitor has in them.  Now I have already touched on the power of this topic in a previous blog post.  You can read it here and even listen to the podcast talking on this dynamic.  When you can throw any pitch at anytime, you will succeed.  It is that simple.  There is no advancement for the timid or weak, complacent or doubtful.  The bold and the brave reap the grandest rewards.  Very simply, as I said in the very first sentence here today, if you are feeling it, throw it!


Keep Dominating!!!


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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