Astros’ technology helped Justin Verlander improve his slider
Justin Verlander is reaping the benefits of playing for a team that has embraced analytics and technology to help their players become better.
On Saturday, Verlander pitched a masterpiece to help the Astros take a 2-0 lead in the ALCS over the Yankees. Verlander went the distance, allowing just one run and five hits while striking out 13 batters. Among his impressive arsenal of pitches that day was a slider that has improved since Verlander has arrived in Houston.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci highlighted a reason behind Verlander’s success that involves a high-speed camera. Below is an excerpt from the article.
In Houston, Verlander found another tool to improve and modernize his game: a super high-speed camera that shows in clear frame-by-frame detail how a baseball leaves a pitcher’s hand on every pitch. The camera showed Verlander the position of his hand on his slider that needed improvement to give it more tilt. Verlander had always thrown his slider in a way that more resembled a cutter. But with the camera’s help, he began to carve off nasty sliders that bore to the back foot of lefthanded hitters.
According to pitch data compiled by Brooks Baseball, Verlander threw 39 sliders on Saturday. The Yankees swung and missed on 13 of them, and nine of Verlander’s 13 strikeouts were on a slider.
Verlander was a very good pitcher before arriving in Houston. He has a Cy Young Award, MVP Award, six All-Star nods, and two no-hitters to his credit. As good as he is, it has to be frightening for opponents to know the Astros may have unlocked an even better version of the Verlander we have become accustomed to seeing. Early results seem to indicate just that.