Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Statcast Slider Usage Studs and Duds for Week 20

Welcome back to RotoBaller’s pitchers advanced stats and StatCast studs and duds article series! Each week we will select an advanced stat, choose two studs and two duds, and analyze what those stats could mean for future fantasy output. Last week I used Statcast's pitch arsenal tab to look at starters' four-seam fastball usage and this week I will do the same for slider usage.

Pitchers' secondary pitches need to be strong in order to achieve high strikeout rates, a metric that matters greatly to fantasy players, so it is worth identifying those starters who can rely on their secondary pitches.

I will pick two high-volume slider pitchers who have done well this season and two who have not or are slumping recently. Let's get into it!

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


Slider Studs

All stats current as of 8/12/19, courtesy of 


Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

39.7% slider usage

Our first pitcher needs no introduction; he has been one of baseball's best pitchers for many seasons. Clayton Kershaw has been great once again this season, going 11-2 with a 2.77 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 25.4% K rate. While he is known for his looping curveball, Kershaw's main secondary pitch is his slider, which he throws almost as much as his fastball. Let's take a look at this pitch and how it has helped Kershaw.   

Kershaw's slider is so effective thanks in part to its high spin rate (2,674 revolutions per minute). That mark is third-highest among pitchers who have thrown the pitch at least 500 times this season. Kershaw's numbers against the pitch reflect how good it is; his .217 batting average against, .230 expected batting average against, and 18.3% swinging-strike rate are all stellar.

There isn't a ton to analyze here, as most fantasy players know that Kershaw is an elite option. However, it is surprising to see how frequently he relies on his slider. It makes sense as his fastball is not overpowering, but Kershaw is typically known for his curveball (which is also a great pitch). So long as he can stay healthy for the rest of the season, Kershaw will continue to help fantasy teams into the playoffs.



Patrick Corbin - Washington Nationals

36.9% slider usage

Our second pitcher blew up in 2018 because of his nasty slider and has continued to bring it this season. Patrick Corbin relied heavily on his slider last season and some people in the fantasy community were worried that he would not be able to continue to find success using it so much, but he has shown that the pitch really is that dominant. Corbin is 9-5 with a 3.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 28.6% K rate this season. Let's look at his unusual but effective usage of the slider.

Corbin actually uses the slider as his primary pitch, throwing it more than his sinker (36.9% vs 33.9% usage). The slider is clearly his best pitch; Corbin has a .171 batting average against, .153 expected batting average against, and an insane 26.3% swinging-strike rate. Corbin gets an above-average 2,406 revolutions per minute spin rate on the pitch, causing it to drop about an inch more than the average slider. The pitch is one of baseball's best, which is why Corbin has become a higher-end fantasy option.  

Fantasy players aren't wrong in questioning whether a starter could be successful with a non-fastball primary pitch, but Corbin has shown that it can be done for almost two seasons now. He did scuffle at the start of the season but is locked in now, playing well for a Nationals team that is fighting for a playoff spot. Fantasy owners should feel comfortable relying on Corbin and his slider down the stretch.


Slider Duds

All stats current as of 8/12/19, courtesy of 


Chris Sale - Boston Red Sox

38.3% slider usage

Our third pitcher is in the same top tier as Kershaw but has not performed like it this season. Chris Sale has gone 6-11 with a 4.41 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 35.3% K rate. His numbers are excellent other than his ERA, but that won't make fantasy owners feel better. The top concern coming into the season was Sale's health and, while he does appear to be healthy, his fastball velocity has dropped. Consequently, Sale has relied even more on his slider (38.3% usage vs 36.1% fastball usage). There is still time for Sale to potentially help fantasy owners, but what should they expect from him?

Fortunately, all signs point to Sale still being a fantasy stud. His fastball is still quite an effective pitch, but his slider is even better, so it has been a smart transition in using it more. He gets a spin rate of 2,486 revolutions per minute on the pitch, causing it to move a ton (vertical drop of 4.8 inches above league average, horizontal break of 2.9 inches above league average). Consequently, he has a .204 batting average against it, a .172 expected batting average against, and a 17.1% swinging-strike rate.

Further, several signs point to Sale just being unlucky this season. His .312 BABIP is higher than his .293 career mark and his 3.01 SIERA is much lower than his ERA. Overall, Sale still shows all the signs of an elite pitcher, thanks in part to his elite slider.  Unfortunately, he has gotten unlucky, but fantasy owners should not be deterred. given how he has pitched.



Matthew Boyd - Detroit Tigers

37.4% slider usage

Our final pitcher had a huge amount of hype surrounding him in the beginning of the season but has had mixed results since. Matthew Boyd has an impressive 31.9% K rate, but he also has a mediocre 4.16 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The K rate can be attributed to Boyd's fastball-slider combo, which are pretty much the only two pitches he throws. Does Boyd have what it takes to improve his ERA as well as his K rate?  

Boyd gets a lot of spin on both his fastball (2,390 revolutions per minute) and slider (2,365 revolutions per minute), which has helped him get away with throwing basically two pitches (48.7% fastball usage, 37.4% slider usage). His 19.5% swinging-strike rate on his slider is particularly impressive. Also, like Sale, his 3.34 SIERA is lower than his ERA and his .315 BABIP is higher than his .298 career mark.  

Many signs point to Boyd getting unlucky this season based on his underlying numbers. However, this is the first season that he has found success. I had difficulty trusting him in the beginning of the season based on his history and still feel the same. I could understand fantasy owners relying on him now as they have all season long, but I wouldn't want to leave the fate of my fantasy season on his arm. 


More Sabermetrics & Statcast for Fantasy Baseball

More Recent Articles


Keenan Allen - Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about... Read More

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

Another week, more upsets. The Cowboys, Chiefs and Chargers all went down knocking out about 15-20 percent of remaining entrants in survivor pools, including myself. The Baltimore and New England wins were never in doubt, but the Redskins and Packers just barely squeaked out wins. If you've made it this far, you've done a job... Read More

Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More

Running Back Metrics That Matter - NFL NextGen Stats

It's been a month--a full month!--since the last time we took a look at our beloved running backs. I don't think there is a hotter topic of discussion between pro- and anti-analytics than rushing. The guys fighting for stat-supremacy are all about using the passing game as much as possible while ditching the run; the... Read More

Titanic Disappointment - Will Ryan Tannehill Help Tennessee?

In the midst of being shutout by the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Tennesse Titans coach Mike Vrabel made a move that many casual NFL fans had been expecting for the past few weeks: he decided to give Ryan Tannehill a shot at quarterback instead of Marcus Mariota. While Tannehill wasn't noticeably better on Sunday, throwing... Read More

Warning Signs: Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Jared Goff

This is going to be a special edition of Warning Signs. Usually, we take a look at players from different teams who have disappointed thus far. This week, I am going to focus on a single team full of players to worry about. It is not good to have a team of big stars where... Read More

FAAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More

We Must Overreact Immediately! Week 6 Outliers

In Week 6, several players exploded in fantasy lineups. There were a few receivers that were above the rest of the pack in Week 6, such as Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin and Tyreek Hill, but there shouldn't be any surprises there as those guys should have been in fantasy lineups. At the quarterback... Read More

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 7

The bye week difficulties continue this week with Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay all getting their rest in Week 7. It should be noted, however, that just because a player is currently in their bye week, doesn't mean you should avoid them on the waiver wire. In fact, this is often the easiest way... Read More

Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

All of a sudden, the Chargers look like one of the worst teams in football and the Jets look like a playoff contender. Maybe things won't shake out that way in the end but it goes to show how quickly things change in the "Not For Long" NFL. For that reason, we advise looking at... Read More

The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 7)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More

Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More

Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 6 is done, and we've seen some outstanding games thus far. We've also seen a lot of surprising teams through six weeks. The San Francisco 49ers, after picking in the top 10 for four straight years, are 5-0 with one of the most complete teams in football. As far as kickers go, we're seeing... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Some of you have been rewarded for your meticulous roster planning by receiving excellent production from your running backs. Unfortunately, many of you have been equally prepared when making roster decisions, but have been undermined by injuries, inconsistent usage, or underwhelming performances. If that applies to you, then those unwanted outcomes have forced you to... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

We weren't really surprised by the top-scoring fantasy wide receivers from Week 6. Out of the top-20 receivers, only Jamison Crowder, Auden Tate and Jaron Brown were less than 50% owned. Jaron Brown (0% owned) was only targeted five times but he scored two touchdowns off of those five targets. Auden Tate (23% owned) hauled... Read More