Q. Will this article be the final word on Pryor's slider and change?
A. We're going off four (4) sliders and one (1) change. Asked and answered, mon cherie. This is a single-game "virtual crosscheck," as it were. Subject to alteration, to correction by G-Money, or to revocation at any time.
Q. Do you like Pryor's slider?
A. I do not, though Stephen Pryor obviously does.
In his debut game Saturday, Mr. Hyde grabbed Paul Konerko in two arms and ripped him in half at the waist. He chewed out a stogie, swallowed it, and ground Alex Rios under his heel. He retired Mr. Personality for a third out, and then....
... facing Dayan Viciedo, THE Dayan right handed Viciendo, started him off with a 90 MPH slider waist high. You could sense Blowers' confused blink over the TV ... Pryor on 0-1 came back with another slider, low away. The polite Blowers couldn't contain himself. "Wow. Starts him with two sliders." He didn't say it admiringly.
Third pitch? 92 MPH slider, actually probably a changeup but the point is the same, right down the heart, knee high. Somehow Viciedo fouled it off; 1-2 count. Blowers didn't say a word. It was like the guy who watches a drunk knock all the glasses off the table into his date's lap and there is stunned silence. That kind of silence.
Pryor came back with two completely unhittable fastballs, one fouled off, 2-2 count, and then sped up Viciedo's bat with a SLOWER slider, and this was the location, pitch #6:
Q. Pretty hittable pitch, eh?
A. Pretty hittable pitch, no. It's quite literally a batting-practice pitch, maybe with 5 MPH on it.
Did you know that in the 1800's, major league hitters could call for the pitch in the location they desired? Tell me where you'd call for a pitch?
Q. Describe the slider generally?
A. Below average movement, as you can see from the chart in the previous article. It moves more like a cut fastball. It's not going to get anybody out because of its movement as such.
Average arm action, from what I could see, and more importantly from the White Sox' reactions. It ain't Michael Pineda's arm action by any stretch of the imagination.
Naturally, the slider "plays way up" because the hitters have to start the bat when the catcher's signalling for the fastball. But taken in isolation I'd call it very mediocre. It needs to be kept out of the hot zones, that is for sure.
An asterisk applies if hitters are way cheating. If (in any given outing) they're just swinging as Pryor releases the ball, then of course any offspeed pitch is a garbage strike. That's the catcher's job, to decide when that is. He's sitting two feet away from the hitter who is grinding the bat handle into sawdust.
What's the fix for the fact that Pryor gave up a hit?
A. Number one, to realize that 0.00 ERA's don't exist, except in Cincinnati I guess. Pryor will give up hits, including on 100 MPH fastballs. But how many? People see hitters go 2-for-25 on 100 MPH fastballs and they go, "See, they'll hit it no matter how hard you throw it" ....
But secondly, STEPHEN PRYOR NEEDS TO THROW 80%-90% FASTBALLS.
Matt Thornton last year threw 87% fastballs - that's all year long, gumby. Aroldis Chapman threw 84%. Joel Hanrahan threw 81%. Neftali Feliz threw 80%. Look, when Neftali Feliz throws you something other than a fastball, he's doing you a favor. Mariano Rivera throws (cut) fastballs every pitch, literally 96.8% in 2003, for example.
The slider does complement the fastball when used as a sucker pitch...