Remember when Clayton Kershaw tossed that 46-mph eephus ball on Thursday afternoon in Atlanta? The floater befuddled batter Tyler Flowers and the Braves, and delighted everyone on twitter. It was something you don’t normally see every day, especially from a three-time Cy Young award winner who is notorious for sawing off bats like he was tossing chainsaws to the plate.
Apparently Kershaw was not supposed to throw that pitch, nor did he have any intention too. It was accidental, but awesome to look at nonetheless. Kershaw ended up pitching eight innings and striking out ten in a Dodger 2-1 win in extra innings. There was more behind the rare pitch than we originally thought.
Our friends at numberfire.com took a look behind the numbers of that unique pitch. It’s only been done four other times this season by three other pitchers. The other pitchers on that list might surprise you. Before you dive into the stats from the numberfire guys, I think it’s important to know where the term comes from.
Former pitcher Rip Sewell was a starting pitcher back in the 1940’s well known for perplexing hitters with a really slow pitch. Sewell was a right hander that pitched for the Pirates from 1938-1949. He didn’t strike out many guys. He recorded just 636 whiffs in over 2100 innings logged. His strikeout per nine rate was a meager 2.7. However he recorded a 3.48 ERA and won 143 games. He even had a 21-win season in 1943 for the Bucs.
Technically Maurice Van Robays is credited with naming the pitch. When asked about it by reporters, he commented “eephus aint nothing, and that’s a nothing pitch”. When asked about the pitch, Sewell would say that it was his “Eephus”. The exact origin is still not confirmed, but many people believe that was the origins.
Bill “spaceman” Lee also threw one of his own as well. He referred to his as a “moon ball”, or a “Leephus”. He actually threw one to Red’s infielder Tony Perez in game 7 of the 1975 World Series. Boston was up 3-0 at the time, and the result was a monstrous two-run home run over the green monster. The Red Sox lost the game and the World Series, by a run.
The only home run Sewell allowed via the eephus pitch (he was a master at throwing it) was to hall of famer Ted Williams, which was in the 1946 all-star game. The pitch has several other nicknames as well, which include Bugs bunny curve, Balloon ball, rainbow pitch, and Monty Brewster.
Oh and maybe this guy should sue for copyright
— Eephusblue (@EephusBlue) April 23, 2016
It’s a cool name.