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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Alek Manoah’s Slider
Manoah was recognized on the national stage for the first time in Tuesday’s All-Star game, as he struck out three batters while mic’d up on the broadcast. In his first start since the break, he proved why he was an All-Star and one of the premier pitchers in the league, striking out seven Red Sox hitters across six innings of one-run ball. His season ERA sits at a nice 2.24.
Justin Verlander’s Fastball
Just look at how much carry this pitch has. 18 inches of induced vertical break, to be exact. Sam Haggerty may have gone deep against a pitch with more average traits, but this heater just kept on riding up and up and he swung under it. A little while after this pitch, Verlander would throw 99 in the 7th inning. The level of dominance that Verlander’s fastball has exerted despite his age and the workload on his arm is incredible to watch. While fastballs usually have the lowest whiff rates of any pitch, Verlander racked up a dozen swinging strikes on the heater alone.
Adam Ottavino’s Slider
In an era where the pitching meta is centered around new mind-boggling topics like seam-shifted wake and “sweepers”, Ottavino has been doing all those things for the past decade. This slider to Manny Machado had over a foot of horizontal movement, and from his extreme release point this creates an even tougher angle against right-handed hitters. Ottavino struck out all three Padres he faced, and took just 13 pitches to do it.
Kutter Crawford’s Curveball
I think the fact that the Red Sox have a pitcher named Kutter whose best pitch is a cutter is the greatest baseball fact of all time. But that’s not the only nasty part of his arsenal, as you can see here. This curve had nearly 4.5 inches of long-form vertical drop while being thrown at 81 mph, not many pitchers can beat him in terms of both movement and velocity.
Gerrit Cole’s Slider
This pitch is just beautiful. On his 98th pitch of the game, Cole hit his spot perfectly with a breaking ball at almost 90 mph and got a big whiff out of Ryan Mountcastle. Cole’s slider is a true bullet, occasionally coming in over 91 mph with a well above average spin rate. Combined with his fastball that comes in the upper-90s from his low release point, he’s always keeping batters on their toes guessing.
José Quintana’s Changeup
Just like Cole’s slider before this, this pitch had the perfect combination of nasty stuff and pinpoint location. One of the best pitches to throw to an opposite-handed hitter is a changeup down and away, and Quintana executed this to perfection. While he’s primarily known for his beautiful looping curveball, Quintana’s changeup has been a strike machine against righty batters.
Logan Gilbert’s Knuckle Curve
This curveball is one of my favorite breakers in the league. Gilbert’s slider is a legit whiff pitch too and he executes it more consistently, but the curveball actually has a higher whiff rate (25%) and a lower batting average against (.186). Gilbert has an ERA below 3, and is showing no signs of stopping in his sophomore season.
Félix Bautista’s Splitter
The Orioles bullpen has been one of the best stories of the year, ranking 5th in the majors as a staff this season. Bautista has been one of the best setup men in the league, with an ERA of 1.67 and over 11 strikeouts per nine innings. With this splitter and a fastball that consistently reaches triple digits, it’s quite easy to see why.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)