Sports | April 21, 2018 5:00 am

MLB Pitchers Are Avoiding the Strike Zone at Record Rates

The strategy, though successful, has some unintended side effects.

Starting pitcher Patrick Corbin #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the San Francisco Giants. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin pitched the best game of his career on Tuesday night, and made the second-best start of the 2018 MLB season so far. He recorded his first career shutout, walked one and whiffed eight.

During the 1-0 win, the Giants only got one hit. Corbin has played brilliantly through his first four outings, striking out 37 batters, walking five and allowing only five runs in 27 1/3 innings, according to The Ringer. You would expect that with these numbers, Corbin has been pounding the strike zone more than in years past. But in fact, Corbin is staying out of the zone. He is among the most successful pitchers who’ve adopted this tactic. Corbin’s slider has long been his best pitch and this year, he ramped up his usage of it, and started varying the speed of the pitch.

Teams across the MLB have seen the benefits of mixing in more slow stuff when a pitcher’s arsenal supports it. Meanwhile, Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino and Padres reliever Brad Hand have both pushed their slider rates above 50 percent.  The Ringer writes that pitchers are starting to throw fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously reported.