Clayton Kershaw Threw an Unbelievably Slow Curveball, and It Baffled the Braves
When you think of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, you likely think of total dominance. He's not striking out over 30% of his opponents two consecutive seasons without bringing some serious heat on the mound, and Kershaw certainly has that with an average fastball velocity of 93.6 miles per hour.
Sometimes, though, you just get bored of schooling dudes on the high cheese.
Here's the 46 MPH curveball from Clayton Kershaw. pic.twitter.com/lj6zOtFqn7
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 21, 2016
Well, that seems unfair.
Kershaw dropped that 46-mile-per-hour curveball on Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers in the fourth inning. This was clearly revenge-motivated after Flowers had singled off of Kershaw earlier in the game. Normally, you'd think Kershaw would back him off the dish with a pitch at his shoelaces, but Kershaw got his payback in the form of psychological warfare. Truly diabolical.
You may be inclined to classify this act of terror as a failure because the pitch was called a ball, but I think Flowers would disagree. Kershaw came back with an 84-mile-per-hour slider on the next pitch -- a 38-mile-per-hour difference -- and eventually fanned Flowers on a curveball in the dirt.
Like I said, this is truly some next-level nastiness.
This fear must have spread from Flowers to the rest of the team as Kershaw cruised for the rest of the day. He finished the outing with 10 strikeouts over 8 innings while allowing just one earned run, which -- of course -- came across before he essentially ruined Flowers' shot at long-term happiness.
To give some perspective on the type of torture this must have presented to Flowers, let's look at the pitches he has seen this season, according to Statcast. The table below breaks down the velocities of the 76 pitches Flowers had seen entering Thursday's game for which there was a recorded speed.
|95+ miles per hour||4||5.3%|
|90 to 95 miles per hour||35||46.1%|
|80 to 89 miles per hour||29||38.2%|
|70 to 79 miles per hour||8||10.5%|
Ain't no 46-mile-per-hour Uncle Charlies on that list, home slice.
In fact, the slowest pitch Flowers had seen the entire season before this was 74 miles per hour. That's still a full 28 miles per hour faster than what Kershaw gave him.
You may be thinking that Kershaw's in rare company by dipping below the highway-speed-limit line, and you'd be correct. This was only the fifth pitch this year below 50 miles per hour, according to Statcast, and Kershaw was the fourth total pitcher to join the club.
The only repeat offender thus far is the Houston Astros' Scott Feldman, though that's not as surprising with his average fastball velocity being below 90 miles per hour. The other two names may be a bit more intriguing: another Astro in Dallas Keuchel and the Chicago White Sox's Jose Quintana.
Keuchel was the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, and Quintana has started the year off with with a stout 2.62 SIERA through his first three starts. When you lump Kershaw in, you've got four Cy Youngs and a boatload of potential.
If those are the hurlers involved, maybe these floundering pitches are the future of deception.
I'd bet Tyler Flowers is hoping they aren't.