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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Edward Cabrera’s Changeup
Did you think this pitch was a fastball or sinker? Me too, the first time I saw it. In fact, this was the fastest changeup that recorded a strikeout in the pitch-tracking era, clocking in at a blazing 95.5 mph. While it sounds paradoxical that Cabrera’s changeup is faster than most pitchers’ fastballs, the similar velocity band of the two pitches makes it hard for hitters to guess the pitch purely based on speed, and the late tail and drop of the changeup is great at missing bats. Cabrera had one of the best performances of the day, allowing just one hit and one hard-hit ball over six innings in Coors Field.
John King’s Slider
King is certainly one of the kings of baseball in terms of getting raw horizontal movement on his pitches. He throws a sinker, slider, and changeup, three pitches with completely diverging movement that miss barrels at an elite rate. This sweeper recorded 16 inches of glove-side break, freezing Ji-Man Choi for the called third strike. Through 22 appearances this year, the 27-year-old reliever is posting an ERA below three.
Edwin Díaz‘ Slider
King’s slider had tons of horizontal movement across the zone, and on the opposite end of the slider spectrum, we have Díaz, whose breaking balls spin like a bullet with late, sharp break towards the end of its trajectory. This pitch clocked 92 mph on the radar gun, which is especially devastating for hitters when he throws a triple-digit fastball. Juan Soto is notoriously hard to strike out, but Díaz made it look easy, locking down the win for the Mets.
Emmanuel Clase’s Cutter
This cutter might just be my favorite individual pitch in baseball. Clase leads all of baseball in triple-digit pitches over the past three years (by a lot), but it’s equally nasty and effective when it’s “only” thrown at 99. In the midst of closing out a shutout for the Guardians, he got Carlos Santana to whiff hard on his power swing.
Tanner Houck’s Slider
I don’t understand how right-handed hitters are supposed to make contact against this slider. The pitch is an outlier in terms of both sweep and horizontal release point, basically starting behind the hitter Kyle Farmer, then moving away from him more than any other pitch. It’s no wonder that hitters whiff over a third of the time they swing at this pitch.
Aaron Nola’s Sinker
Front-door pitches with a ton of horizontal break are some of my favorites to watch. Within a tiny fraction of a second, Mike Yastrzemski has to worry about both not getting hit by a 91 mph projectile and not striking out, and unfortunately, he was only able to do one of the two. This sinker broke 15 inches back into the strike zone, but Nola topped out at a ridiculous 20 inches of horizontal movement today (and 17 inches in the opposite direction with his curveball).
Hunter Greene’s Slider
Greene simplified his arsenal today, throwing fastballs or sliders in 72 of his 73 pitches. And while he threw 13 fastballs of at least 100 mph, his slider was the pitch that was really working today, getting 11 whiffs on just 20 swings. While the results didn’t go his way today, he still had a 33% CSW, no walks, and eight strikeouts in his 3.2 innings of work.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)