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New A's starter Stripling admits ‘Deathball' pitch isn't ready yet

New A's starter Stripling admits ‘Deathball' pitch isn't ready yet originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Athletics fans had reason to be excited when pitcher Ross Stripling was traded across the Bay from the San Francisco Giants to Oakland.

Armed with a wild new pitch dubbed the “Deathball,” Stripling was gearing up for a comeback season, and while he is on track to start for the A’s, it will be without the humorously named pitch.

In speaking to MLB.com’s Martín Gallegos at spring training, the veteran right-hander revealed that his new pitch is not ready yet.

“I wish I would have kept it quiet a little longer because it needs some more love before I’m convinced it’s part of the arsenal,” Stripling said. “I can throw it in bullpens pretty good. But so far, I’ve only gotten one swing on it.”

Stripling revealed the new spinning slider he was working on last month, when he was still a member of the Giants, and he appeared to be excited to show it off against live batters.

After struggling during last season with inconsistency and injuries, Stripling was looking to focus on adding the "Deathball" to his array of pitches to raise his strikeout percentage. Star MLB pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Justin Verlander have had success with a similar slider that drops straight down and confuses hitters due to its deep vertical movement.

“It has a ton of potential, but I would like it to be a step farther than it is right now," Stripling told Gallegos. "It’s time to harness the arsenal and decide whether the pitch makes it or not.”

The Giants signed Stripling to a two-year, $25 million contract prior to the 2023 season, but he was underwhelming, going 0-5 with a 5.36 ERA in 22 appearances.

Now with Oakland, Stripling is looking to stay healthy for the entire season.

“Last year was frustrating," Stripling told Gallegos. "I had a small injury [in spring training] I tried to grind through because I didn’t want to be the guy that showed up hurt. That was a mistake. … I’m feeling better about where I am this year. The motivation is to be much better.”

The A’s are looking for more stability from their starting pitchers entering the 2024 season, with the young squad looking to improve after two straight 100-plus loss seasons as uncertainty about the future of the franchise and its move to Las Vegas linger.