Baseball Slider (SL)

Baseball Slider

When facing batters, pitchers often mix in a variety of pitches with different movements to keep the batter guessing. The slider is one of the most commonly used pitches, and can be a very effective weapon in the pitcher’s arsenal due to its deceptive nature. Read on to learn more about the history of the slider in baseball and how to throw one.


A slider is considered a breaking pitch due to its lateral and downward breaking movement. It is commonly described as a hybrid between a fastball and a curveball. Sliders are thrown faster than a curveball but with a bit less overall movement. Since it is a hybrid pitch, a slider can be difficult to read. Batters can be deceived into thinking that a slider is a fastball or a pitch in the zone until it breaks away as it is approaching the strike zone. As a result, these pitches are great for creating swinging strikes.

There is also the backdoor slider, which is essentially an inverted form of the regular slider. The backdoor slider can fool a batter into taking the pitch for a strike, as they may believe it to be a ball all the way up until it breaks into the zone at the last moment for a strike.

How To Throw A Slider

There are multiple ways that pitchers can grip their sliders for different variations, but the most common grip involves the index and middle fingers being placed next to each other and slightly off-center between the inner seams. The middle finger should be placed right on a seam, while the index finger is on smooth leather. The thumb is usually placed on the opposite side of those two fingers for support and can be adjusted to whatever is comfortable for the pitcher. The ring finger should have a knuckle on the side of the ball for greater support while the pinkie is completely off the ball.

When throwing the slider, it’s advised that a pitcher has a similar motion and release point as they would for a fastball. With a large part of the effectiveness of a slider being deception, it is important for a pitcher to have a slider with the same windup motion as their fastball to make sure that the batter can’t easily predict what is coming.


The two most known variations of the slider are the gyro and the sweeper. Gyro sliders are generally thrown in a way to disguise them as four-seam fastballs, with a slower speed and a bit of horizontal movement breaking 1-5 inches toward the pitcher’s glove side to differentiate. They spin in a unique way, on the same axis as the path they take on their way to the catcher’s glove. That’s where the “gyro” name comes from, as its movement is similar to that of a spiral.

The sweeper slider is thrown with a more traditional side spin and can move horizontally over 10 inches toward the pitcher’s glove side if thrown effectively. They are most often played off as two-seam fastballs.

History of the Slider

The slider emerged as a prominently used pitch around the 1920s, with Hall of Fame pitcher Charles Albert “Chief” Bender credited with introducing it. Back then, it was referred to as a “nickel curve.” 

In 1946, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller set a record in the MLB for strikeouts with 348 and later credited his slider pitch as the greatest help to that record in his book. It was one of the most famous early examples of a pitcher using their slider to great effect.

Perhaps the greatest slider pitcher in MLB history was Randy Johnson, who dominated batters in the 1990s with his incredible slider that played off of his 100 mph fastball.

Best Slider Pitchers

Some of the most skilled pitchers at throwing sliders in MLB history are:

  • Jacob deGrom
  • Carlos Rodón
  • Andrés Muñoz
  • Emmanuel Clase
  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Randy Johnson
  • Bob Gibson
  • Steve Carlton
  • John Smoltz


What is a slider in baseball?

A slider is a common breaking pitch thrown by a pitcher in baseball. It is considered to be a hybrid between a fastball and curveball due to having elements of both in its movement. A slider is thrown faster than a curveball but usually with a bit less breaking movement. The slider’s hybrid nature allows it to deceive batters, as they may swing early or at the wrong location by believing it to be a fastball.

How is the slider thrown in baseball?

The slider is most commonly thrown using a grip that places the index and middle finger next to each other at an angle slightly off-center between the inner seams. The middle finger is supposed to grip a seam, while the index finger is on leather. The thumb is placed on the opposite side of the ball for support, with the ring finger having a knuckle on the ball to secure it. When throwing the slider, it is advised that pitchers throw in a similar windup and release motion as they would a fastball, so that the opposing batter is unable to tell the difference when the ball is thrown.