Stephen Strasburg plans to utilize his slider/cutter less in 2017, according to a report by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The right-hander was sidelined in August and September with a strained flexor mass in his right arm and believes his chronic elbow issues stemmed from an increased usage of the pitch during the 2016 season.
Strasburg debuted his slider back in 2014, but didn’t start incorporating it into his regular routine until 2016. Brooks Baseball estimates suggest that the slider accounted for 17.16% of the 28-year-old’s pitches, ousting his changeup as the second-most common pitch in his repertoire. Whether his decision will bring his curveball and sinker usage back up from their all-time low totals in 2016 or whether he’ll simply lean a little harder on his change remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, though: Strasburg doesn’t want to eliminate his newfound pitch entirely, as he credits it with his ability to get more outs early in counts (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post).
It’s a proactive move for the right-hander, who appears to have returned to full health after multiple stints on the disabled list. He’ll resume his throwing program in January and, barring any unusual setbacks, should be good to go by spring.