Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis and His Struggles With the Slider

This one pitch has given Henry Davis a lot of issues since his promotion to the majors

Henry Davis of the Pittsburgh Pirates leans out of the way of a pitch during a game against the Mets
Henry Davis of the Pittsburgh Pirates leans out of the way of a pitch during a game against the Mets / Seth Harrison/The Journal News / USA
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One particular pitch has given Henry Davis fits through the first two months of his MLB career, leading to a lot of his offensive struggles

When Henry Davis made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in June excitement and expectations were very high for fans. Davis has flashed plenty of good things since making his debut, but he has also had his fair share of struggles.

After going 1-for-3 with a walk and a RBI against the New York Mets on Monday night, Davis is now hitting for a .228/.321/.363 slash line to go with an 87 wRC+, 10.7% walk rate, and a 21.9% strikeout rate in 196 MLB plate appearances.

Obviously, these results are not at all what anyone is looking for from the former no. 1 overall pick in the draft. Despite posting below avergae overall results, one thing that has not been an issue for Davis are his contact rates. His 88.5 MPH average exit velocity, 7.9% barrel rate, and 44.1% hard hit rates are all above league average.

The biggest driving cause behind the offensive struggles of Davis has been one pitch. That pitch? the slider. Through the early days of his MLB career Davis has struggled in a big way with the slider and this is something he will need to improve.

As you can see below, the slider has been by far the biggest problem pitch for Davis since his promotion.

Pitch Type

Batting Average

Slugging Percentage

Whiff Rate

Four-seam fastball

.289

.395

15.1%

Slider

.108

.216

39.7%

Sinker

.227

.386

17.2%

Curveball

.417

.583

45.2%

Changeup

.263

.368

21.2%

Cutter

.154

.231

19.2%

Sweeper

.333

1.333

30.0%

While the slider is not the only pitch that has given Davis issues with whiff rate, or how often he swings and misses at the pitch, it's the one pitch that he has completely struggled with. Despite having a high whiff rate against curveballs and sweepers, Davis still has a slugging percentage of .583 and 1.333 off of those pitches.

So, despite swing-and-miss issues with those pitches, Davis has still been able to hit for power.

Sure, Davis has struggled against cutters as well. However, opposing pitchers have relayed much more heavily on the slider when facing him. Entering play on Monday, Davis had faced 59 cutters to 163 sliders. When Davis is facing two strikes or behind in the count, the slider has become the go to pitch for opposing pitchers.

Opposing teams are picking up on these struggles for Davis. The only pitch he's seen more than a slider is the four-seamed fastball. Considering a four-seamed fastball is the most commonly thrown pitch in baseball, it's no surprise that's the only pitch Davis has seen more than sliders.

To see a young hitter, even one as highly touted as Davis, struggle with major league sliders is not a surprise. Davis is an immensely talented hitter and now it is up to him, as well as the Pirate coaching staff to make the necessary adjustments to begin to find success against the slider.

Next. Suero & Severino Update. Checking in on New Prospects in the FCL. dark