Righty reliever Ethan Roberts was sporting a fresh pair of Racer Blue Air Jordan 3s when he met the media in the wake of being told he’d made the Opening Day roster, but he might need to gift those kicks to his slider. That’s because his nasty breaking ball had two feet of horizontal movement as it literally swept all the way across the zone to get Roberto Perez swinging to end the 7th inning on Tuesday.
This slider from Ethan Roberts topped 3000 RPM and had 24 inches of horizontal break. Yeesh alert. pic.twitter.com/Syd2jqQHfN
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 12, 2022
Roberts picked up his first MLB hold for keeping the lead intact through an inning of work that shockingly featured just one swinging strike. It was a big one, though, and it showcased just how dangerous Roberts can be. Generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, the righty pitches like a firecracker in a closed fist because he’s unassuming until he explodes and batters are left staring at their useless hands.
Ethan Roberts, Fastball/Slider Overlay. pic.twitter.com/Lmx0ZDgvyE
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 13, 2022
Through two appearances on the young season, Roberts has generated an average slider spin of 2,991 rpm that would have ranked second in MLB last season behind Kyle Crick (3,295). And with an average horizontal break of 22.1 inches, that Roberts slider would have ranked ahead of Crick (21.5) for the sweepiest in all the land. In fact, only Chaz Roe (22.8) has averaged more horizontal movement in the Statcast era.
I’m sure some of you are sitting there in the passenger seat right now looking for the oh-shit break like a jumpy driver’s ed instructor and I get it. After all, we’re talking about a total of eight sliders from Roberts. But this isn’t something new, it’s just that the general public is finally clocking it. Roberts has been displaying elite-level spin and movement for years, even going back to his days at Tennessee Tech.
Speaking of which, how about Roberts’ alma mater snapping Tennessee’s 23-game winning streak in a game played at Smokies Stadium? Roberts knows a thing or two about upstaging major programs in his home state, like when he set the spin rate record at Vanderbilt without even trying. For more on that and how he’s got jet fuel pumping through his veins, check out his interview with us on The Rant Live.
It’s easy to get excited about two good outings and some Pitching Ninja highlights, but believe me when I say this isn’t a case of hyping someone based on a small sample. Roberts was built for this and he’s going to be someone fans love seeing out of the bullpen for years to come.