Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mat Latos' slider dubbed 'toughest pitch to hit home run off of'

Mat Latos has been far and away the most reliable starting pitcher for the Reds in 2013. In fact, the right-hander has been nothing short of great since joining Cincinnati prior to the 2012 campaign.

Since becoming a Red, the Florida native is an outstanding 27-8 with a tidy 3.24 ERA spanning 59 starts and 378 innings pitched. There have been several factors which have led to his success on the mound. And one of them undoubtedly includes his ability to throw a filthy slider.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal published an interesting piece about the 25-year-old's dominating slider. The WSJ went through the effort of crunching the numbers and concluded that there is no tougher pitch in Major League Baseball for a batter to hit a home run off of than Latos' slider.

The evidence is certainly there to back up their claim, too. Latos has whirled a total of 683 sliders toward the plate this year and none of them have yet to result in a home run. And it's not like Latos isn't throwing the pitch much. His slider accounts for 26.1 percent of his total pitches, which ranks second-most behind his fastball (58.9 percent), and accounts for more than half of his 166 strikeouts.

Overall, Latos has coughed up 11 home runs on the season, which isn't too shabby considering that Great American Ball Park yields the sixth-most home runs of any stadium in the major leagues.

Among all of the pitches that major league starters have thrown at least 500 times this year, only five, including Latos's slider, haven't been hit for a homer. The others are Ubaldo Jimenez's slider, Hiroki Kuroda's splitter, C.J. Wilson's slider, and Stephen Strasburg's curve.

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