Every morning, the We Love Baseball crew reviews the Nastiest Pitches from the previous day’s games. If you see something you think should be included here be sure to tweet @PitcherList to let us know. Or, if you’re a PL+ Member and part of our Discord, shout it out in the Nastiest Pitches channel. If your suggestion is included the next day, you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing for a free t-shirt. If you’re not already a PL+ member, you’re missing out!
Shohei Ohtani’s Splitter
This was pure filth. Ohtani has been throwing fewer splitters this year in favor of more sliders, but his start today shows he can still execute it perfectly. This pitch dropped off the table (and the plate), dropping 22 more inches than the fastball that was thrown right before it. Today, the split earned seven whiffs on eight swings, and he had double-digit strikeouts despite dealing with a back injury all game. He had 17/93 whiffs, a 39% CSW on secondaries, and a 33% CSW overall, though he did allow a couple of home runs. Even when he doesn’t have his best start, Ohtani still does something incredible every single day.
Nestor Cortes‘ Cutter
One of the best ways to draw up nastiness is paint. Cortes has been incredible, pitching 7+ innings in three of his past four starts and posting a 1.70 ERA on the season. He doesn’t throw all that hard, but he has an excellent pitch arsenal headed up by this cutter that comes in on the hands of right-handed hitters, and he can locate all five of his pitches like an absolute champion. In this at-bat, four of his six pitches were right on the edge of the zone.
Scott Barlow’s Curveball
Have you ever seen a pitcher refuse to throw fastballs in a game and still dominate? Famously, Lance McCullers Jr. once threw 24 straight curveballs in a playoff game and won, and today Barlow did his best rendition of that. He pitched two scoreless innings and earned the save for the Royals while throwing fastballs on just four of his 41 pitches. The other 37 pitches were evenly split between curveballs and sliders, and when you can get ugly swings like this one, who needs a heater?
Tarik Skubal’s Slider
When you watched this for the first time, did you think it was a fastball? Don’t worry, it fooled me too. This slider was thrown at a ridiculous 94 mph (yes, you read that right) on his 102nd pitch of the game. While this pitch might look rather bland in terms of horizontal movement, the camera angle is more to blame than anything else, as this breaking ball averaged over a foot of separation from his sinker. Skubal couldn’t continue his streak of three consecutive scoreless appearances, but he did put together another quality start and currently has an impressive 2.44 ERA.
Aaron Nola’s Knuckle Curve
This pitch is simply a whiff machine. Of Nola’s 15 whiffs in this brilliant start, ten of them came on the curveball. This one dives beneath the zone, beyond the reach of William Contreras‘ bat. This pitch has movement galore, with 13 inches of induced vertical drop and a foot of horizontal sweep, making it a bona fide two-planed weapon.
Gregory Soto’s Fastball
A lot of elite fastballs get overlooked in some discussions of the nastiest pitches, and I want to change that. What’s not to love about Soto’s heater? He threw this one at 98 mph from the left side with an outlier vertical and horizontal release point. In other words, pretty much no one in the league (except maybe Josh Hader) throws anything like this, and as a result, the pitch is a true whiff machine, which is why Soto was an All-Star last year and currently has an ERA under 2.5.
Jhoulys Chacín’s Curveball
This was an absolute buckler from Chacín – you can see Maikel Franco’s upper body try to bail out of the box before he realizes the pitch isn’t going to hit him and he flails his arms toward the ball, only to miss and strike out. This sweeper had a ridiculous 19 inches of horizontal movement, a number bested by very few other pitchers in the entire league.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns of Twitter)