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Ross benefiting from more frequent slider usage

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DENVER -- Pitcher Tyson Ross, who won his fifth game of the season on Thursday, is using his slider more this season, throwing it 36.9 percent of the time compared to 32.6 percent a year ago.

This much, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley is well aware.

"His slider is just so good. I think he's throwing it a little more than before," Balsley said. "And, honestly, I would like him not have to throw it quite as much. But it's also such a devastating pitch … and when it's that good, it's kind of hard not to throw it a lot."

According to FanGraphs, Ross' slider usage is up from 2013 and he has also increased his swinging-strike rate (12.6 percent from 11.1) while also lowering his contact rate (70.6 from 75.3).

"I think that he's throwing more fastballs in hitters' counts, throwing his two-seamer more, getting to two strikes quicker," Balsley said. "He's ahead into the count more than he was last year. He should continue to get better and better."

This is certainly a far cry from Spring Training in 2013 when Balsley was charged with helping Ross to streamline his mechanics and harness his command. It has been a work in progress.

"For me, I think the ultimate guy is a high ground-ball, high-strikeout pitcher," Balsley said. "He [Ross] might turn into one of them. He's improving every day."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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