It’s not uncommon at this time of year to hear about pitchers introducing new pitches to their repertoire. Newly acquired A's right-hander Ross Stripling is taking it to another level, giving his newest offering a nickname with the potential to strike fear in the hearts of batters everywhere.
"I'm throwing the 'Deathball,'" Stripling told Ari Alexander, a reporter for KPRC 2 in Houston. "Which is essentially an inefficient spinning slider that, from my arm angle really high; if you can cut the efficiency of the spin, it basically can't move horizontally, so the only way it can go is down. So it's just kind of like a funky, downward, harder slider that guys from high arm angles are trying to figure out."
Stripling generated little vertical movement with his old slider, getting 3.6 inches less drop vs. average compared to similar sliders thrown at his velocity in 2023.
Stripling said he hopes the new pitch adds more swing-and-miss to his game. The right-hander owns a 23.5% whiff rate and a 21.9% strikeout rate during his career -- each below-average figures.
"Even though I feel like I have a good arsenal and I get a lot of soft contact, I just don't miss a lot of bats," Stripling said. "So this is a pitch that [Tyler Glasnow], [Justin Verlander], Luke Jackson and Nick Anderson, some guys [are] throwing, they get a lot of swing-and-miss. Like some of them over 50 percent, so even if I can get a fraction of that, it would be a huge addition to my game to be able to put people away."
Time will tell if Stripling’s “Deathball” helps the 34-year-old regain the form he showed with the Blue Jays in 2022, when he recorded a 3.01 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP over 134 1/3 innings.
Stripling landed with the Giants in free agency on a two-year, $25 million deal after that stellar season. However, he struggled in his first year with San Francisco, posting a 5.36 ERA over 89 innings. Stripling’s contract gave him the ability to opt out after 2023, but he did not exercise the opt out. The Giants later traded him, along with cash considerations, to the A's in exchange for Minor League outfielder Jonah Cox.