While Spring Training just kicked off a few days ago, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that many of the Cleveland Indians players took very little (if any) time off since being bounced out of the 2013 Postseason last October. The latest story comes in the way of Mickey Callaway, the team’s miracle-working pitching coach, and Zach McAllister, who has apperently added a few new arrows to his quiver.
Zach McAllister went home over the winter in search of a strikeout pitch. When the Indians right-hander arrived to Spring Training, he brought a new slider with him.
At the suggestion of Cleveland’s coaching staff, McAllister went to work over the offseason on adding a slider to his repertoire. The goal of the pitch, which essentially replaces the inconsistent cutter he featured last season, is to give the Tribe starter a more reliable weapon for hitters to chase.
McAllister is a lock for the Indians’ starting rotation. Along with Corey Kluber and Ubaldo Jiménez, the 26-year-old was one of the feel-good stories of 2013, providing a 3.75 ERA in 134 1/3 innings. Though hampered by a mid-summer finger injury, his first and second halves were almost identical, allowing opposing batters to produce a .325 wOBA.
If there is much in the way of down side to the towering righty is his penchant for fly balls (41.4 percent, with an incredibly lucky HR/FB ratio of 7.5) coupled with a low swinging strike rate (7.1 percent). If the slider is as good as Callway says it is—”It looks really good.”—then there’s a possibility that these two red flags could be lowered. If these two red flags are indeed lowered, the Indians may have themselves one solid middle-of-the-rotation arm for the upcoming season.
Just another one of the many storylines to watch as the Countdown to Opening Day ticks on.