Pirates

Below Deck: Eppler honing his slider, but consistency remains elusive

COLUMBUS, Ohio. — The pitch that made Tyler Eppler unhittable at times through his first six starts with Triple-A Indianapolis can become his worst enemy.

Such is life in the minor leagues.

The 24-year-old starting pitcher learned to throw a slider late last season with Altoona and it has become his top secondary pitch. His statistics through six starts with Indianapolis this season were eye-opening: a 3-1 record with a 2.36 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and 29 strikeouts to only six walks.

But his confidence in that same pitch led him astray Monday night in Columbus. After failing to establish his fastball early and throwing too many sliders, Eppler allowed four extra-base hits in a three-run third inning during the Indians' 5-4 loss to the Clippers at Huntington Park.

Though Eppler, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, struggled with his command for most of the night and earned his second loss of the season, he lasted six innings and came away with his latest lesson during his ascent through the Pirates' farm system.

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