Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels)’메이저놀이터s main weapon ‘Sweeper’ is in the spotlight.
On the 12th (Korean time), Ohtani played as a starting pitcher and third hitter in the home game against the Washington Nationals in the ‘2023 Major League Baseball’ held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Los Angeles, USA, and led the team to a 2-0 victory.
Ohtani, who showed off a good fight with 1 hit, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts and 1 run in 7 innings, earned his second win of the season. He lowered his season earned run average to 0.47.
Ohtani increased his streak of pitches with 5 or more innings and 3 hits or less, which has been since last year, to ‘7 games’. He also set a new Angels club record by pitching less than two runs in 10 consecutive starts.
On this day, Ohtani threw 92 balls. Of these, he threw 51 sweepers.
Ohtani, who has a fastball of over 100 mph and a splitter with a large drop, has been shaking the timing of hitters with his sweeper since last year.
A sweeper is a type of modified slider. Depending on the pitcher, there is a pitcher who throws a slider that changes ‘vertically’, and there is a type of pitcher who uses a slider that changes ‘laterally’.
The sweeper moves laterally, with a more angular trajectory than a typical slider’s trajectory.
MLB.com, the official homepage of the major leagues, explained, “Ohtani’s sweeper changes 18 inches (45.7 cm) horizontally this year.” Considering that home plate is only 17 inches, it’s a huge change indeed.
MLB.com said, “Ohtani’s sweeper changes 4 inches more than the major league average. The league average sweeper velocity is 81 to 82 miles (132 km), but Ohtani can raise it to the late 80s. Ohtani’s sweeper The change is large and the velocity is fast, so it becomes difficult for hitters to attack.”
Ohtani faced Mike Trout as the final batter in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Finals, throwing a sweeper that changed to 17 inches for 87 mph. At that time, the ball left Ohtani’s hand and flowed out from the outside of the home plate, prompting Trout to strike out on a swing.
Ohtani started increasing his sweeper usage rate last year and has already surpassed the four-seam fastball. Since the same year, he has induced 205 misses as a sweeper, and has struck out 89 times. This year, the rate of using the sweeper has increased to 46%.
This is why Ohtani, who has a fastball of over 100 mph and a wide variety of pitches such as splitters, curveballs, and sinkers along with ever-changing sweepers, dominates the major leagues.