I had to go to the bathroom to splash some water in my face after I saw Adbert Alzolay stifle Pirates batter with what the broadcast said was a curveball. Except it wasn’t actually a curveball. Alzolay had instead whipped out a brand new pitch that is actually a slider.
According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, one of the best Cubs follows on Twitter, Alzolay recently tweaked his grip with pitching director Craig Breslow and other Cubs coaches. This allowed the righty to generate sharper horizontal breaking action with greater velocity than his curveball and it showed Tuesday as he was throwing these sliders around 85 mph against the Pirates.
After the game tonight, Adbert said he tweaked the grip in the past 10 days. Closer to cutter grip. Needed more velo separation off curve. So the slider tonight was a “new” pitch. @statcast game log should have it updated soon.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 23, 2020
Here’s an example of his slider Pitching Ninja highlighted. Pay no attention to his caption, since this was confirmed to be a slider.
Adbert Alzolay, Ridiculous 84mph Curveball. 😳
And sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/w4utBGSzcV
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2020
And when his new slider is overlayed with his new sinker, it’s a work of art.
This Adbert two-seam, slider overlay is 🔥 pic.twitter.com/gYvCMqODPX
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 23, 2020
Alzolay didn’t just add a pedestrian pitch, though. Preliminary data suggests his new breaking ball has more horizontal movement than 90% of big leaguers with a higher spin rate than 80% of right-handed pitchers. Notice in the graph below how Alzolay’s average slider RPM hovered near 3000.
Even better, that spin is translating to movement, which is what we want to see.
Basically, Alzolay just developed two new pitches since spring training, implementing a sinker and now this brand new slider that looks absolutely lethal. Adding two new pitches at all in such short order is wild for a young pitcher, but to have both be good? That’s really special.