The Nastiest Pitches of 2021: Smokin’ Sixteen

Sticky or no sticky, these are all filthy.

With the calendar officially flipped to 2022, it’s time to take one final look back at 2021 and relive some of the Nastiest Pitches of the year. We’ve hand-picked sixteen of the nastiest, filthiest, most disgusting acts committed by pitchers during the season, and it’s now up to you to vote and determine which pitch will be crowned Pitcher List’s Nastiest Pitch of 2021.

Voting will run throughout the day and every vote counts! Each round will run this week and the winner will be announced on Twitter on Saturday.

 

Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)

 

And with that, let’s kick off the Smokin’ Sixteen!

 

Shane McClanahan’s Sinker (1)

 

 

vs.

 

Chaz Roe’s Slider (4)

 

 

Our number one overall seed, a filthy sinker from Shane McClanahan that won April’s Nastiest Pitch award, faces off against another April pitch that frankly got overlooked the first time around. Chaz Roe is a Pitcher List favorite for his numerous disgusting sliders over the years, and despite his injury-shortened 2021 season he still had enough time on the mound to throw this junk. Tampa Bay truly is chock full of guys who throw nothing but junk.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Paul Sewald’s Slider (3)

 

 

vs.

 

Aroldis Chapman’s Splitter (2)

 

 

Former Met Paul Sewald exploded onto the scene in 2021 thanks to a slider that made batters across the country look silly. Sewald went from overlooked middle reliever to the closer on a team with serious playoff aspirations, and he delivered when Seattle needed it most. This pitch was one of the few that I saw during the season that elicited an audible gasp. Unfortunately for Sewald, he has to face off against a pitch from another closer, one of the best in the game: Aroldis Chapman. Known for his high heat, he increased his splitter usage in 2021 and it fooled batters all year long. The pitch actually had the highest CSW% of all his pitches at 39.8% in the 2021 season. This specific pitch tumbled into the zone at a stunning 684 RPM and it has since tumbled into our hearts as one of the nastiest of the year.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Kevin Gausman’s Splitter (1)

 

 

vs.

 

Aaron Bummer’s Slider (4)

 

 

Our third matchup is between May’s nastiest pitch winner, this devastating splitter from Kevin Gausman, and a filthy slider from Aaron Bummer that starts behind the batter end nearly ends up in the dugout. Seriously, that slider moved so, SO much. When we’re searching through pitches late at night as we craft our daily articles, we have some relievers in mind that we know have a good chance at delivering a usable pitch. Bummer is one of those guys, thanks to the devastating movement the pitch gets and the solid camera angle in Chicago. I’m a huge fan of Bummer, and also a huge fan of Gausman, so this matchup will be a tough one to move on from.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Kenley Jansen’s Cutter (3)

 

 

vs.

 

Blake Treinen’s Slider (2)

 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers certainly had an embarrassment of riches in their bullpen last season, with names like Brusdar GraterolDaniel HudsonJoe Kelly, and Corey Knebel just to name a few. They also happen to have two of the most dominant relievers of the last half-decade in Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen. Jansen has been the stud closer for the Dodgers for what seems like the last 15 years, while Treinen has been the nastiest pitcher in baseball for about the same time period. As if he wasn’t already nasty enough, Treinen made an adjustment to his slider that added an additional 10 inches of horizontal movement to the pitch in 2021. It was hard to pick just one of his sliders for this tournament, so we went with one that started up and in and ended in the opposing batter’s box. Nasty stuff.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Tanner Houck’s Slider (1)

 

 

vs.

 

Logan Webb’s Sinker (4)

 

 

Tanner Houck won last year’s tournament thanks to his ridiculous slider, and it makes another appearance as a top seed in this year’s tournament. Its opponent is a nasty sinker from young stud Logan Webb, who exploded onto the scene last year and developed into the Giants’ newest young ace. While his changeup is the pitch that raised some eyebrows around these parts in spring training, it’s the sinker that sets everything else up. Both pitches get a ton of movement and end in a strikeout, so good luck choosing between this filth.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Corey Kluber’s Curveball (3)

 

 

vs.

 

Diego Castillo’s Sinker (2)

 

 

It’s super easy to fill Nastiest Pitches with curveballs and sliders thanks to just how much movement they get. They often look the most circus-like, so there’s a natural bias that causes us to gravitate towards them. It takes a truly special one to get included in these yearly tournaments, and Corey Kluber’s curveball certainly fits the bill. Meanwhile, Diego Castillo’s sinker drops off the face of the earth with some incredible down and away action that sucks the soul out of David Dahl. Each pitch is deserving of the crown, but only one can move on.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

José Urquidy’s Changeup (1)

 

 

vs.

 

Miguel Castro’s Slider (4)

 

 

José Urquidy’s changeup, the Nastiest Pitch of June, has a tough matchup against a strong four seed in Miguel Castro’s slider that nearly killed a man. Urquidy has always gotten a ton of horizontal movement on his changeup, but this one just seems otherworldly. Castro is one of the nastiest relievers in baseball, featuring a filthy sinker, a disgusting changeup, and a slider that, as we see here, causes opposing batters to think they’re in the Matrix.

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Caleb Thielbar’s Curveball (3)

 

 

vs.

 

Blake Treinen’s Sinker (2)

 

 

I’ll be honest—these are my two guys. My two favorite relievers to watch in 2021. Blake Treinen gets his second entry in this year’s tournament with a magical front door sinker that just clips the corner of the zone. Meanwhile, Caleb Thielbar, aptly nicknamed “Meat Raffle” for reasons that continue to baffle baseball fans everywhere, throws a curveball that seemed to defy gravity and spend just as much time in space as astronaut Mark Kelly. Maybe we’ll be able to use the newly deployed James Webb Space Telescope to see the pitch in orbit next season…

 

Which Pitch Was Nastier?

 

Photo by Jimmy Simmons, Ric Tapia & Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)

Ben Brown

Ben is a lifelong resident of the great state of Maine who loves the wild and wacky intricacies of baseball. During the summer months, you'll find him either in the woods at a golf course or floating on the water upta camp, both with a local beer in hand and a game on the radio.

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