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.
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Michael Kopech’s Slider
Since his major league debut, Kopech has made the transition from oft-injured reliever to potentially elite starter for the White Sox. In five innings of work today, he surrendered a single hit and unearned run while striking out five batters. While his fastball and curveball did most of the heavy lifting, this slider was one of the most beautiful pitches he threw all game.
Roki Sasaki’s Splitter
Sasaki is a 20-year-old pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League. Last week, he threw arguably the greatest professional game ever – 19-strikeout perfect game against the reigning pennant-winning Orix Buffaloes, and today, he threw 8 perfect innings with 14 strikeouts… before being pulled with 102 pitches. The hook made sense – Sasaki’s fastball velocity was down over a full tick in the eighth inning, he’s had injury issues in the past, and the game was a 0-0 tie. The Marines lost the perfecto in the ninth on a dropped third strike and eventually lost on a home run in extra innings. Sasaki has retired 52 batters in a row, definitely an NPB/MLB record and likely an all-time professional record. I can’t wait until his next start to see how long that streak continues. His triple-digit fastball and two 90+ mph secondaries are an absolute treat to watch, and you can watch this 91 mph splitter here.
Carlos Carrasco’s Changeup
Carrasco was absolutely lights out today. In just five innings of work, he took home a share of the league lead in whiffs for the day, tying fellow Nastiest Pitches feature Justin Verlander with 17. He struck out eight Arizona Diamondbacks on just 82 pitches, and this beautiful changeup (which took home an insane 10/23 whiffs) was a huge part of why.
Hunter Greene’s Fastball
The legend of Greene began when he was a teenage prospect for the Reds, throwing triple-digit fastballs as a starter and sitting 102-104 when he was allowed to air it out over single-inning relief appearances. Greene, now a 22-year old, earned his spot in Cincinnati’s opening day rotation. Today, he threw 80 pitches with an incredible 40% CSW on his fastball, which averaged 100.2 mph. It may be low-hanging fruit to use a whiff by Cody Bellinger on a high fastball, but he’s actually had a good start to the year and Greene is just too nasty with it.
Nick Martinez‘ Changeup
Texas Rangers fans may remember Martinez from his stint with them from 2014-2017, and yes, this is the same guy. After spending four years with the Nippon-Ham Fighters and and Softbank Hawks of NPB and posting a 1.60 ERA in 140 innings with the Hawks last season, Martinez was signed back to MLB by the Padres. Changeups like this one show how he was able to dominate the offspeed-heavy meta of NPB. He really put Marcell Ozuna in the spin cycle there.
Justin Verlander’s Curveball
Through two starts, Verlander has really turned back the clock and shown he still has plenty left in the tank even 18 years into an illustrious career. The seventh inning of this game marked the 3000th of his career, and he celebrated the occasion by striking out eight Mariners in as many scoreless innings with an absurd 44% CSW on secondaries. This particular curveball had nearly five feet of drop, and Cal Raleigh simply couldn’t make contact.
Zac Gallen’s Changeup
Gallen missed his first start of the season with injury, but he proved today that he’s ready to start the season running. He made the most of his 66 pitches, tossing four scoreless innings and inducing eight whiffs. While Gallen is most known for a deep arsenal of pitches that break the opposite direction, he prominently featured the changeup today, with four whiffs out of 19 total changeups thrown.
Josh Winder’s Slider
Winder is one of the Twins’ best pitching prospects, who features excellent command of a four-pitch mix headlined by a mid-90s fastball. After a one-inning relief appearance the other day, Winder was thrown into the fire after an injury ended Sonny Gray’s day after recording just five outs. Winder performed admirably, allowing just two runs over 5.1 innings. He featured the slider you see here over half the time, earning ten whiffs and a 40% CSW on the day.
Ian Anderson’s Changeup
Anderson has one of the most interesting changeups in the league. While spin and movement-based mathematical models are skeptical of the pitch’s effectiveness, it has never failed to put up elite results, as its swinging strike rate last year was even higher than that of the offspeed master Luis Castillo. I firmly lie in the camp that believes this is a truly elite pitch. Anderson’s combination of a high arm slot and ability to hide the ball during his wind-up make it nearly impossible to hit, especially for lefties like the rookie CJ Abrams.
Archie Bradley’s Curveball
Bradley has quietly been one of the better relievers in baseball over the past half-decade or so, posting a 3.13 ERA since 2017. The Angels added him to their bullpen this offseason in a wave of new signings that included Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera to solidify their bridge to elite closer Raisel Iglesias, although perhaps they were simply looking to corner the market on two-way players to join Shohei Ohtani. This beautiful knuckle-curve helped to extinguish the red-hot Jonah Heim.