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Glen Perkins and the art of the opposite-side slider

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

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Received pitching wisdom has it that throwing the slider to opposite-side hitters is a tricky and treacherous thing. That's true, of course, as sliders show a fairly strong platoon split. After all, the glove-side run native to the pitch means that sliders will often wind up in the wheelhouse of an opposite-side hitter.

While many a slider has defied these tendencies, let's highlight the slide-piece of Twins closer Glen Perkins. Perkins, a lefty, isn't afraid to throw his slider to right-handed batters -- for instance, in 2012 he threw it 37.3 percent of the time to RHBs. In the early going this season, Perkins has gone to the slider just 21.2 percent of the time against opposide-side hitters, but the results have been striking (pun largely intended). Per Brooks Baseball, right-handed hitters in 2014 are 0-for-26 against Perkins's slider (!), and when they offer at it they're whiffing 46.2 percent of the time.

Here's a taste from earlier this week at the expense of Sean Rodriguez of the Rays ...

(GIF courtesy of PitcherGIFs)

That's the kind of late, sharp movement you need in order to get the "back-door" breaking ball past platoon-advantaged hitters. Needless to say, the margin for error is slim. Start it too far outside, and it doesn't catch the plate. Start it too far inside, and it might meet the barrel. Throw it too "loose," and the hitter is better able to recognize it and then lay off or rip it.

 
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