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Trevor Bauer ditching his newfound slider in 2018

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He’s looking for a more Corey Kluber-esque pitch to throw this season.

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, Trevor Bauer did something that few pitchers do in the middle of a season, let alone the middle of a pennant race: He started using a new pitch. A slider to be exact, which he dabbled with in July and threw heavily in August. After throwing it fewer than 200 times between July and the end of the regular season, he’s already prepared to scrap it in 2018, according to Jordan Bastian.

Merritt Rohlfing actually looked in-depth at this slider when it emerged last season over at Beyond the Box Score, although he — being the rationally minded human that he is — didn’t think anyone would randomly start using a pitch in August and instead believed it to be a modified cutter. The fact that it doesn’t move like a true slider was a hint that Bauer was indeed making up shit as he went. Which is, of course, vintage Trevor Bauer.

It also doesn’t help that Bauer himself created doubt that he was throwing a brand new pitch, telling The Athletic to not always trust MLB’s Trackman pitching tracking system when it started showing him throwing sliders.

“Sometimes it has no idea [what I’m throwing],” Bauer told The Athletic. “Take the information that you see there with a grain of salt.”

Bauer did also reveal where the experimental aspect of the pitch comes from, essentially saying it started as a type of fastball that “squirted” out of his hand and later morphed into a more traditional slider-like pitch.

Bauer went to work on finding a solution. After carefully considering the outcomes, he came to a conclusion: change the grip. In this case, he decided to move his thumb from the lower portion of the baseball to more of a side position.

The choice to change his hold and alter his thumb placement wasn’t just something he came up with on a whim. He figured the shift to a higher grip with the thumb would give him the downward action he was seeking. What he didn’t anticipate, however, was some of the additional pitch depth the movement would give him.

How did the pitch actually fair? For a Frankenstein’d approach to throwing a baseball to Large Dudes ready to hit it, not bad. According to Brook’s Baseball, Trevor threw it a total of 186 times, 103 of those coming in August. Trevor is right about Trackman not always getting pitches correct, though, so some of these modified pitches may have actually showed up as cutters. But as far as pure sliders go, as defined by Brook’s Baseball’s tracking, opponents slugged just .182 off it — Trevor’s best pitch of the month.

Keeping in mind the caveat of a small sample size, the weighted value of Bauer’s slider was 1.2 in 2017, good for 29th among all slider-throwing pitchers in baseball. It certainly wasn’t an awful pitch, but Bauer fancies himself someone who can make forward-thinking decisions using numbers and off-field analytics, so I imagine he’s found something, somewhere, that shows its success can’t last much longer.

The good news is that he’s aiming for a Corey Kluber slurve type of pitch, which the world needs more of, anyway.