Don’t tell Michael Brantley, who K’d chasing after a nasty slider for the final out of the 2019 World Series, or the hitters who put up a combined .182 average against the pitch last year, but, Daniel Hudson said in a SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio appearance on Wednesday, it’s never really come back consistently after he underwent Tommy John surgery twice in 2012-13.
“I still have issues with my slider,” Hudson explained when he was asked about which of his pitches took longer than others to come back after Tommy John.
“I’ll literally go a week as a reliever,” he continued, “...have like four games in a week where my slider is the nastiest pitch I’ve ever thrown, and then literally I’ll take a day off and then the next day it’s gone. So I feel like I still have issues with that thing.”
Hudson started in his first four major league seasons, but transitioned to the bullpen after he returned from the second surgery, and the 10-year veteran said the move to relief work and the change in mentality allowed him to eventually make the best of his situation.
“I feel like also getting into this bullpen mentality took the longest for me too,” Hudson said.
“I no longer have that first inning to where I can feel my way through a lineup and feel what I have through each pitch or— first two innings or whatever, so the mentality of switching to that bullpen to where, alright, I’m just going to go up there and I’m going to try to throw the nastiest pitches I can throw and try to get three outs in as few pitches as possible and then I’m done.
“I think that really kind of helped me mentally to just be like, just go up there, throw it hard in a certain area and try go get guys to swing and miss.”
Hudson got the final two batters he faced last season to K swinging in a 1-2-3 ninth inning which brought an end to the Fall Classic.
Eight years after he’d last pitched in the postseason, Hudson, acquired by the Nationals at the trade deadline last July (and re-signed this winter), got the final out of the World Series, something he said every kid dreams of when they think about playing baseball in the big leagues one day.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Hudson said of getting that final out.
“Because — obviously as a reliever you’re trying to strike everybody out, but I’m not that guy that goes up there and strikes out — I don’t strike out 14 guys per nine [innings] like some of these guys, I’m like an 8-9 [K/9]. So I do still get a lot of contact. I struck out the last two guys, and honestly I got Brantley to swing and miss at a slider, and I kind of just went — I got excited and then I went, ‘Oh, I don’t know what to do now,’ so I literally just turned around and chucked my glove, and then waited for the catcher to come out to the mound.”
“It was just like blackout, don’t know what happened, I saw it on TV the next day, that’s what I did. It was kind of — obviously, as a kid that’s what you dream of, man, like you’re literally on the mound in your backyard, you’re like, ‘3-2, bottom of the ninth, Game 7, this is what I’m doing,’ and I got to live that out.”