Leo Nunez To Throw More Sliders In 2011?

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIFebruary 28, 2011

Last week, we took a look at the Boston Red Sox rotation and how they felt like they threw too many cutters in 2010.

As we looked at the stats and cutter ratio from 2009 to 2010, outside of one or two pitchers showing an increase in cutter ratio, the stats really didn’t equal the way the Boston pitching staff felt.

Nunez is working on his slider this spring

Today, we are going to look at another pitcher and pitch ratio, but this time the pitcher and pitching coach believes that they weren’t throwing one pitch in particular enough.

The pitcher I am talking is Florida Marlins’ closer Leo Nunez and the pitch I am talking about is his slider.

In an article in the Miami Herald, Marlins’ pitching coach Randy St. Claire said that Nunez lost confidence in his slider and didn’t use it nearly enough in 2010.

Nunez turned into a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and change) and needs that third pitch to be successful, according to St. Claire.

The numbers back up St. Claire’s feelings.

Nunez only threw his slider *three percent of the time last season. That was a 5.3 percent decrease from the year before and over a 15 percent decrease from 2008.

When Nunez did throw his rare slider, it was no great shakes. His slider was 2.6 runs below replacement level last season.

Developing a pitch that goes down and away to right-handed batters like a slider will help Nunez better handle them.

Right-handed batters hit .291/.346/.470 with four HR’s against Nunez last season.

The Marlins have made additions to their bullpen in the offseason in hopes of improving a weak spot in 2010. That said, they are going to need Nunez to anchor that bullpen and hold things down late in the game and not fade like he did last season.

Perhaps developing his slider is the first step in that process.

* Pitch ratio courtesy of Fangraphs.com

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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