Starting pitchers and relievers are constantly experimenting with different pitch types to get hitters out. Some pitches stick with fastballs and changeups, while others opt for breaking balls. One type of breaking ball pitch that is faster than traditional curveballs is the slurve. So what exactly is a slurve pitch, how do you throw it, how fast is it, and more? Find out the answer to these questions and more below.
What Does the Slurve Pitch Do?
The slurve pitch generally arrives at home plate in the 80 MPH range. In addition to being slower than a fastball, the pitch has a downward drop heading towards the strike zone. Most baseball players will describe the pitch as something in between a slider and a curveball. Pitching coaches will sometimes suggest the slurve pitch as another option for starting pitchers and relief pitchers if they are comfortable throwing sliders and curveballs to hitters.
For example, a right-hander throwing a slurve pitch to a right-hand batter will try and have the ball move to the outside of the strike zone. The idea is to have the righty throw the pitch in the strike zone but then have the ball move away from the hitter’s bat as they swing. Like a left-hand hitter, you want the pitch to dive into their swing, which can cause a broken-bat if the hitter makes contact with the ball outside the bat’s sweet spot.
How to Grip / Throw a Slurve Pitch?
Some pitchers grip their middle finger on the horseshoe portion of the baseball lace along with the index finger right next to it to throw a slurve pitch. Next, you put your thumb almost directly on the bottom of the baseball touching the seams to control the grill. As you release the ball, you let your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger act as the guide on the opposite side of the ball from your glove side. To throw the pitch effectively, you want your arm motion to be consistent with your other pitches, like a curveball and two-seam fastball, to deceive the hitter.
How Similar is the Pitch to Other Pitches?
The slurve baseball pitch is similar to a curveball but has the miles per hour of a traditional slider when you throw it. Some pitchers tend to use the Slurve pitch over a classic curveball if they have a changeup in their pitching arsenal. Since the changeup will be slower than a slurve pitch, some pitchers like to use the slurve as the middle-velocity pitch between their fastball and changeup pitch.
Who Threw the First Recorded Slurve Pitch in Major League Baseball History?
Baseball official records listed Johnny Sain of the Boston Braves as the first pitcher to throw a slurve in 1940. During his career, Johnny Sain had 139 Wins and 116 Losses, with a 3.49 ERA. Johnny also had a Baseball WHIP of 1.300, Baseball WAR of 29, and threw over two thousand innings in their career.
The Best Slurve Pitchers in Major League Baseball History
Throughout the history of the MLB, many famous pitchers and hall of fame pitchers have used the slurve pitch to record outs in their career. While the slurve is not as popular as traditional breaking pitches, some players found a lot of success adding this to their pitching repertoire. Below are some of the most recognizable pitchers to use this pitch to record outs in baseball games.
- Yu Darvish
- Cy Young
- Goose Gossage
- Corey Kluber
- Kerry Wood
- Dellin Betances
- Michael Pineda
- Stephen Strasburg
- Dallas Braden
- Drew Smyly
Is the Slurve a Good Pitch?
Any pitch can be a good pitch for a pitcher, but there are some skeptics about the effectiveness of the slurve pitch. For example, some might argue that the pitch is not very good because it doesn’t drop like a curveball or have as big of a break as a slider pitch. Another issue, according to Steven Ellis, The Complete Pitcher, is that scouts don’t find the slurve pitch as a favorable metric when evaluating a high school, college, and minor league prospects for pitching.
Conclusion on the Slurve Pitch
In summary, a slurve pitch is one of many types of pitches baseball players can throw. Like a changeup, curveball, four-seam fastball, sinker, splitter, forkball, and even knuckleball, changing the speed and location of a pitch can retire hitters. In the end, it comes down to how comfortable a pitcher is throwing that pitch to record an out during a baseball game.