Jaun Cruz, Please Do Not Ditch the Slider

April 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

(St. Pete Times Photo)

When I learned that Juan Cruz was going to be taking the last spot on the Rays’ roster I was excited. I have always been a fan of his and have always loved his numbers out of the bullpen, which includes an absurd 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings.

In his career, his slider has easily been his best pitch. His wSL is +18.2 and the only other pitch that has been worth more than league average is his change-up thanks to a -6.6 wFB over the past two seasons. Even with age catching up to him and the fact that his BB/9 have always been high there is still reason to believe he can be a solid reliever in the Majors with that slider of his, especially as the 12th pitcher on a roster.

The problem is that last year, albeit in a very small sample size, he seemed to ditch his slider in favor of a cutter. He only threw 109 pitches last year but 30.6% were cutters and only 13.9% were sliders. His highest percentage of cutters previous to this was in 2009 when he threw 7.6% cutters and from 2007-2009 he threw his slider 24% of the time or higher. His cutter, again, in limited duty, was worth -2.0 wCT and his slider was worth +0.9 in even less duty.

I do not know if this is a growing trend for him but for the Rays’ sake let’s all hope he sticks to the slider.

*****As a side note, in the middle of writing this article I was reading Tommy Rancel’s post The Process Versus Mark Reynolds and thought you all may want to read it too because Juan Cruz may be our best option against right-handers with that slider of his.


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