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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Cristian Javier‘s Slider
Javier had the game of his life yesterday, pitching seven innings and contributing the bulk of a combined no-hitter by the Astros. He threw 115 pitches, struck out 13 batters, and only allowed a single walk. While many evaluators and analysts questioned his abilities to be a starter at the major league level, he’s done his best to prove them wrong this year, as he’s sporting a 2.73 ERA and 2.75 FIP, even better than his marks last year in the bullpen.
Gerrit Cole‘s Curveball
Opposing Javier in his no-hit bid was Cole, who nearly matched his opponent. He also threw seven innings, but allowed just a solo shot to put him in line for the loss. But he was brilliant as usual, striking out eight and getting 19 whiffs while averaging nearly 99 mph on his fastball. This breaker sent hitter Aledmys Díaz into a full 360 as he struck out.
Tanner Houck‘s Sinker
This was a beautiful pitch, coming back into the zone to freeze the hitter Oscar Gonzalez. But from a data perspective, it’s even more interesting. This sinker had -6 inches of induced vertical break with 15 inches of horizontal break. We call them sinkers because they “sink” more than other pitches like four-seam fastballs, but this pitch literally sunk, dropping even after removing the force of gravity. It’s basically a 95 mph changeup, and it’s no wonder no one can hit it.
Max Fried‘s Curveball
This was a ridiculously good start for Fried, who had a 36% CSW (with 20 (!) whiffs) over 106 pitches in Atlanta’s win over the Dodgers. His best pitch of the day was this curveball located below the zone to the swing-happy Hanser Alberto, who gets taken down to one knee by the crazy movement.
Ryan Helsley‘s Fastball
Helsley made waves earlier in the season for sitting 101-103 mph throughout a number of relief appearances. While the velo has come down and he’s averaging a “mere” 100, he can certainly crank up the gas when he wants to. This pitch at 102 was perfectly located up and in, a perfect spot to get whiffs from left-handed hitters like Alfonso Rivas.
Josiah Gray‘s Curveball
Gray had one of the best starts of his young career, throwing seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts. In this start, he did something that he hasn’t done before — throw breaking balls the majority of the time. His sliders and curveballs comprised two-thirds of his 94 pitches, and they combined for 15 whiffs. His fastball hasn’t had good results on contact all season, but by throwing it less he was able to limit the damage and even steal eight called strikes while hitters were sitting breaker.
Michael King‘s Slider
King is one of a number of pitchers from analytically minded teams who has experienced a breakout after learning the “sweeper,” a new type of slider grip that maximizes horizontal movement while being surprisingly easy to learn. Despite what the K box says, this pitch was a strike according to Statcast, and it also featured an impressive 18 inches of horizontal movement during its flight to the plate.
Kenley Jansen‘s Cutter
I didn’t ever expect to be writing about how Kenley Jansen saved a game against the Dodgers, but here we are. LA’s all-time franchise leader in saves gets yet another one, this time against his former team. While he doesn’t throw his cutter at Mariano Rivera levels like he did early in his career, it’s still his go-to pitch, especially in two-strike situations. This pitch has the elite carry of a four-seam fastball with above average horizontal movement, which nearly no other hurler can replicate.
Edwin Díaz‘s Slider
I love this camera angle for this particular pitch because with the combination of Díaz’ outlier release point and the flight of the ball towards the outer part of the plate, the broadcast camera is perfectly centered on the ball. And what we can see from this lucky angle is that the pitch is a strike for the first 55+ feet of its journey towards the plate. That’s an incredible amount of late movement for a pitch thrown so hard – even with less time to move out of the way, it still did. Díaz is dominating the league right now, with his 47% strikeout rate far higher than anyone else.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)