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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Shohei Ohtani’s Slider
Yesterday, Ohtani hit two homers and collected eight RBI, singlehandedly keeping his team in a game where nearly every Angels pitcher got lit up. Today, he set a personal best with 13 strikeouts over eight shutout innings while also hitting second in the lineup and getting on base three times. In just two games, he’s added a full WAR to his season total. Shohei Ohtani is doing things that we’ve never seen before, and may never happen again. Don’t ever forget that.
Today, Ohtani did something that he’s only done a few times before, but has found tremendous success with it – he threw more sliders than any other pitch. His 46 sliders ran a nutty 57% CSW. The pitch earned 26 called strikes and whiffs, and only one ball was put in play against it. He also ran his fastball up to 99, but only needed to throw it a quarter of the time to mow down the Kansas City lineup.
Charlie Morton’s Curveball
In the age of Statcast and other advanced technology, we’ve been able to see how elite Morton is in terms of his ability to spin a baseball. He’s always had an elite hammer, but we’re now able to put to numbers how well he can snap them off. Today, 36 of his 39 curveballs had a spin rate of at least 3000 rpm. What’s so special about that? In just one start, Morton threw more 3000+ spin rate pitches than 19/30 teams have thrown all year long. It’s no surprise that Atlanta leads the league in high-spin pitches by a wide margin.
Emmanuel Clase’s Slider
Clase’s triple-digit cutter is the fastest thrown pitch in all of baseball and is routinely featured in Nastiest Pitches articles, but I think I found something even better. It’s not 100+, it’s 96, and it’s not a cutter – it’s a slider. This just might be the hardest-thrown slider of all time (although it’s hard to tell because there are so many Statcast glitches). The pitch had enough late dip to drop right underneath the zone and get Gary Sánchez whiffing to end the game, a wild comeback victory for the Guardians.
Ross Stripling’s Changeup
Stripling’s pitch location chart from this start was beautiful – he peppered the top of the zone with fastballs, then threw all his sliders to the glove side and all his changeups to the arm side. It was clear that he had a clear plan and successfully executed it nearly every time. His high slot and release point give his changeup an added level of deception, and it was a big part of his six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox.
Ryan Pressly’s Curveball
It appears today is just the day of elite breaking balls. Pressly might be one of the only pitchers in the history of baseball to spin a breaker better than the previously featured Charlie Morton – this one had a crazy 3365 rpm spin rate, comfortably the spinniest pitch of the day. This pitch had an elite two-planed break, with 16 inches of induced vertical drop and 9 inches of horizontal sweep. It’s no wonder he throws two breaking balls each with a CSW of 35% or better.
Clay Holmes‘ Sinker
It’s really hard for you to convince me that Holmes isn’t throwing a wiffle ball in this GIF. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the league who can generate that much movement on a pitch thrown that hard. This “turbo-sinker”, as he and many others call it, had a ridiculous 20 inches of horizontal break (roughly one home plate’s width plus a few more inches for good measure). What’s equally impressive is that this pitch gets almost no vertical break relative to gravity – it’s basically pure fade. Every pitcher in the league would kill to get that kind of movement profile on their changeup, but Holmes gets it on a pitch that he runs up to 101. It’s straight-up unfair, and it’s why he’s sporting an insane 0.55 ERA and 83% ground ball rate.
David Robertson’s Curveball
Robertson is yet another pitcher who’s built a long and successful career out of a natural ability to spin the ball, and today crossed the 700-inning mark for his career. The veteran has experienced a resurgence this season, posting a sub-3 ERA so far. While he’s recently added a sweeper like pretty much every pitcher in the league, his nastiest pitch today was the knuckle-curve that he’s relied on for the past decade and a half. What’s most impressive about this individual pitch is how it seemingly falls off the table in the last few feet of its flight.
Tyler Anderson’s Changeup
After pitching a near no-hitter last week, Anderson was back for more. While he didn’t replicate the results he got in his previous start, the raw stuff was equally nasty. The changeup that’s been mowing down hitters all year was still working quite well, as you can see here. It might not be apparent with the off-center camera angle, but this pitch had a ridiculous 16 inches of horizontal movement. He’s certainly been a huge performer for the Dodgers this year, with an ERA of exactly three.