Welcome to part three of Coolwhip’s dive down the rabbit hole of pitchers changing their slider. 2 weeks ago I talked about Blake Snell and Justin Steele, here. Last week I talked about Jose Suarez, here. This week we take a look at the next stage in the starting pitcher conversion of Drew Rasmussen. What’s the focus for his rise in the polls (and coincidentally mine), you guessed it, the slider.

Ten days ago he came within 3 outs of recording a perfect game going 8.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 Ks; and as of today, his season line is a sparkling 2.82 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 90 Ks, in 105.1 IP. Not the K/IP you would prefer but stellar numbers regardless. Before the trade to Tampa he was a reliever with the Brewers, yet the Rays saw something in him they thought they could mold, and now we are seeing the fruition of it.

The most interesting thing I’m finding on my slider vision quest is that as you saw with the others thus far, there’s a movement in baseball over the last couple of years to mold sliders into the big sweeping motion that generates a lot of horizontal movement. And as the case proves with everyone so far, the sliders aren’t flat, they drop too. That’s the magical two-plane movement you hear about. And as the case is with Snell (91st percentile) and Steele (95th percentile), and now Rasmussen (96th percentile), they each throw a high-spin fastball.

And then there’s the change:

This season Drew’s slider has added almost 10 inches of horizontal movement giving it 5.6 more inches of sweep than the league average. That is… something. This is on top of it already having 5.3 more inches of drop than the league average. His slider, ladies and gentlemen, is now elite. Full stop.

This is a big deal because, as you recall, his fastball has 96th percentile spin (and sits at 95.5 mph). Looking at the pitch charts, this year he’s making more of an effort to throw the fastball up in the zone with better command and the slider at the bottom of the zone. Textbook pitch tunneling that the Astros have been known for (along with cheating).

And lastly… you’ll notice he’s throwing a cutter this year too. His cutter is different than your typical cutter as it has above-average drop and below-average run. Meaning, it pairs well as a third offering to his fastball-slider combo. The fastball is mostly straight and stays up in the zone, the cutter dives below where they’d be watching for the fastball, and the sweeper goes clear off the table. That my friends is poetry in pitching. I’m putting a big circle around him for my drafts next year.

The only thing that has eluded him is sustaining a high K-rate. With pitches like these, I suspect there is room for growth, especially in the Rays capable hands. The rest of the way I foresee the Rays managing his innings some against lesser opponents much as they did against the Tigers before his perfect game bid. Today though, he faces a struggling Angels team and is primed for a good outing as the Angels have failed to score more than 4 runs in regulation for the last 6 games and are 29th in AVG over the last 30 days with a .212 team line, just the below the Pirates.

If you want more Coolwhip to top off your baseball experience, fantasy or otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter: @CoolwhipRB.

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Son
Son
5 months ago

Excellent work as always, CW

Grey
Admin
5 months ago

I kinda like that any time a slider is mention we go with Goo Goo, or at least until we get a pic of Vogelbach with dozens of burgers on a table in front of him

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Coolwhip
5 months ago

It draws itself