STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--Kyle Crick has quietly put together an impactful season, even if the peripherals don't show it.
Crick, a 26-year-old righty, has suffered a rocky road since the calendar flipped to June, with a 4.26 ERA for the month to go along with two blown saves. Crick's two home runs allowed in June conspired with seven walks to leave him with that bloated ERA, even if his batting average against was still solid at .136. Those seven walks tied three other months over his career for the highest single-month total, and his two home runs also tied career highs for a per-month figure.
So, yes, it was a bad month for the late-inning reliever, but Richard Rodriguez he is not.
Perhaps his slider serves as the main factor in Clint Hurdle's clear and stated preference for Crick to come in to high-leverage situations. The pitch's bona fides are seriously impressive.
Hitters are chasing it 41.1 percent of the time when it lands outside the zone, and whiffing when it falls inside at a 30.3 percent. The overall whiff-per-swing on the pitch is an astounding 48.6 percent. He ranks 14th in all of baseball among relievers who have thrown at least 25 sliders in terms of wOBA against the pitch, coming in at .193. Francisco Liriano comes in second with .093 ... that might be a column for another day.
The catalyst for Crick's slider finding another level is the movement he can put on the pitch.