Every morning, the We Love Baseball crew reviews the Nastiest Pitches from the previous day’s games in glorious high-definition GIFs. We want to bring you the highest caliber of nastiness possible, so if you see a nasty pitch, please tell us about it. You can tweet @PitcherList to let us know and we’ll give you a shout-out here in the article if your tip makes the cut.
As a bonus for PL+ members, let us know about a pitch on the PL+ Discord in the Nasty Pitches Channel, and if your suggestion is included the next day, you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing for a free T-shirt!
Frankie Montas‘ Splitter
Poor Mallex Smith. Frankie Montas‘ devastating splitter claimed another victim in the bottom of the second inning on Monday, leaving one man helpless in its wake. Montas may have walked four batters in the game, but he limited the damage to just one run over seven strong innings. The WHIP hurt, but the strikeouts and the ERA more than made up for it. Montas is growing into the ace we wanted him to be. (H/T PL+ member Chris Nichols)
Sonny Gray’s Two-Seam Fastball
A bunch of staff and PL+ members were chatting in the Discord during this game and this pitch elicited a shriek out of Nick Pollack that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Francisco Lindor took Sonny Gray deep in his first at-bat, but Gray got his revenge on this two-seamer that froze Lindor like Olaf the Snowman. Gray has finally developed into the true ace that he hinted at in his days with the A’s, and it is a glorious sight to behold.
Gerrit Cole’s Slider
For the third outing in a row, Gerrit Cole just didn’t quite pitch like Gerrit Cole. It’s tough to live up to the high standards he set in 2019, but when you’re No. 1 on The List you need to pitch like it night in and night out. He ultimately earned the win and only gave up one run on five hits, but the true litmus test is the amount of GIFable pitches thrown during an outing and Cole simply didn’t have many tonight. Now that I think of it, that should be an award we give out like the Gallows Pole or King Cole. The GIF Hammer? A GIF Sandwich? I kinda like GIF Sandwich. If you think of something better feel free to leave a comment below, but I think I’m gonna roll with GIF Sandwich for now. Let’s do this.
Alec Mills‘ Sinker
Alec Mills was Nick’s streamer of the day yesterday and he delivered, hurling seven innings of three-hit ball against the Royals and earning the win. This nasty sinker that fools Jorge Soler is just one of five pitches in his arsenal, including a curveball he throws anywhere from mid-sixties to mid-eighties. The sinker is his second most utilized pitch, and after seeing this one I can understand why.
Chris Paddack’s Curveball
The look that Cody Bellinger gives at the end of this GIF says it all. Bellinger swings at this pitch like he’s trying to get out of a greenside bunker, and the only thing missing is the dirt flying through the air while the ball hits the lip and rolls back to his feet. Chris Paddack is known for his changeup, but this curve was easily his best pitch of the night.
Jacob deGrom’s Slider
Jacob deGrom lit up the Braves on Monday, racking up 10 strikeouts in six innings of two-run ball while earning the inaugural GIF Sandwich. It’s no orange blimp, but I’m sure deGrom will proudly display this prestigious award in his trophy cabinet from now until eternity. He had about ten pitches that were GIF worthy and made me say “whoa” at first glance. This isn’t to say he had enough nasty pitches to fill this entire column in one start; On second look, a handful of them weren’t quite up to snuff. But the GIF Sandwich is all about that initial gut feeling when you see a pitch, and deGrom certainly earned it tonight.
Zach Plesac’s Changeup
The Zach Plesac–Sonny Gray matchup wasn’t quite the pitcher’s duel we were hoping for, but they both had their fair share of filth on the mound in Cincinnati Monday night. Plesac was bit by the homer, giving up two in his seven innings pitched, which spoiled an otherwise solid night against the tough Reds offense. Tucker Barnhart must be a good dancer because the follow through on this swing is smooth and graceful despite whiffing at a changeup out of the zone. When he ends up on Dancing With the Stars in five years, remember where you heard it first.
Justus Sheffield’s Slider
Stephen Piscotty bowed down and bent the knee to the true King of the North(west) on this backfoot slider. It wasn’t a great night for Justus Sheffield as he allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings, likely because he left a lot of his sinkers in the zone at a hittable 91.6 MPH on average. The sinker is a new pitch for him in 2020, so some growing pains should be expected, but it’s still an unfortunate sight to see regardless. Luckily he still has this sweet, sweet slider that generated a 23.8% SwStr rate in 2019. If there is any Justus in this world, Sheffield will hopefully realize his full potential sooner rather than later. (H/T PL+ Member Chris Nichols)
Danny Duffy’s Curveball
Danny Duffy is known for a curveball that has fantastic break but sees the zone far too often. This one was dropped low and inside, and wouldn’t you know it, he got a swinging strike three out of it. Nick often talks about the Blake Snell blueprint, where a pitcher throws fastballs up in the zone and breaking stuff down, but that doesn’t work when your curveball lands in the zone 45.9% of the time like Duffy’s did in 2019. Danny, do us all a favor and do more of this. We like your stuff, it’s just not being used as effectively as it could be.
Zac Grotz‘ Splitter
This was a perfectly located splitter by Zac Grotz to one of the most dangerous hitters in the American League in Matt Chapman. Grotz’ splitter registers as a changeup on Fangraphs, returning a respectable 12.7% SwStr rate and 39.1% O-Swing in 2019 with decent contact numbers. It’s his second most used pitch behind his sinker, and while nothing else in his arsenal is spectacular there is at least some potential in this splitter.
GIF of the Night
Which was your favorite pitch? Vote below, and the winner may be featured in our Nastiest Pitches tournament midway through the season.