There were some ridiculous pitches throughout the baseball season, and you’ve been voting every day for your favorite pitches. We held the Nastiest Pitching GIFs of the First Quarter, Second Quarter, and Third Quarter tournaments and it’s time to crown another king of pitching GIFs with the Nastiest Pitching GIF of the Fourth Quarter. Sixteen pitches will enter, who will win?
Here are the rules:
- All GIFs were pulled from the GIF of the Week competitions across weeks 19-24 to end the regular season plus the four weeks of the Postseason.
- Every winner was granted an automatic bid, with the extra slots being hand selected by the staff across all Nastiest Pitches articles.
- Votes will last until 12:00 a.m. EST the following morning, with the next round starting at 9:00 a.m. every morning and final round beginning on Monday morning.
- The excellent Justin Paradis has created a gorgeous bracket of all 16 pitches, with secondary pitches and fastballs broken up into two brackets, with #1-8 seeds.
Here are the matchups for Round #1:
#1 Aaron Nola‘s Fastball vs. #8 Alex Cobb‘s Splitter
#2 Jordan Hicks‘ Fastball vs. #7 Nathan Eovaldi‘ Cutter
#3 Zach Britton’s Fastball vs. #6 Rick Porcello‘s Fastball
#4 Michael Kopech‘s Changeup vs. #5 Dallas Keuchel‘s Changeup
#1 Chris Sale‘s Slider vs. #8 Corey Knebel‘s Curveball
#2 Dylan Maples’ Slider vs. #7 Aaron Nola‘s Curveball
#3 Adam Ottavino‘s Slider vs. #6 Taylor Rogers‘ Curveball
#4 Chaz Roe‘s Slider vs. #5 Blake Treinen‘s Slider
Watch The GIFs In The Links Below!
Aaron Nola may have finished third in the NL Cy Young voting to Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, but he was the only one of the three finish with a pitch in the Nastiest Pitching GIF, never mind a top seed (and a second pitch, which you can also vote on). However, his “get-off-me” fastball has to go up against as tough an 8-seed as you’re going to see in Alex Cobb’s “comin’-at-ya” splitter.
There was legitimately no better way to finish the 2018 World Series than Chris Sale corkscrewing Manny Machado into the ground with a back-foot slider. Good thing for Machado, no amount of hustle could have affected the result on this pitch. Sale’s crazy slider goes against a Corey Knebel hook that was almost a mirror image in terms of action, which caused James McCann to flinch just a little. In fairness though, Knebel’s hook was coming right at his face—that is, until it landed right over the middle of the plate.
Surprise, surprise, a heater from Jordan Hicks made the final list. Hacking at a fastball running down and in doesn’t exactly sound like the ideal pitch to swing at, but it’s not like you have a ton of time to react to 102. Though you’ll have to decide what’s tougher to handle, that or a 94-MPH cutter from Nathan Eovaldi that appears to be well off the plate until it darts over at the last second. I don’t think they taught you how to hit either of these in little league.
Although this is a second seed versus a seventh, this one might honestly be the toughest decision in the first round. Obviously, they aren’t the same pitch, but the shape on Dylan Maples’ slider and Aaron Nola’s curve don’t differ immensely. Of course, Maples’ has some side-action, while Nola’s has a slight bit, but they’re both pitches that start right down Broadway and just dive-bomb out of the zone. Throw in the fact it’s Nola and I think this has a makings of an upset. That’s for you to decide, of course.
Dylan Maples’ Slider vs. Aaron Nola‘s Curveball
You’ve heard of changeups that run down and arm-side, but fastballs that do that aren’t as common. Clearly, Zach Britton never got that memo. But Britton’s fastball has one of the tougher matchups in the tournament in Rick Porcello’s fastball. Similar movement, though running into a righty as opposed to the other direction. What’s weird about Porcello’s pitch is fastballs up in the zone like that aren’t supposed to drop. They flatten out. Maybe it still gets some run, but that’s it. I’m not sure if Porcello puts synthetic or conventional motor oil on his ball, but whichever it’s clearly working.
Zach Britton’s Fastball vs. Rick Porcello‘s Fastball
This is one of those tough, tough first round pairings. One the one hand, Adam Ottavino made Dansby Swanson look like an absolute fool, swinging at a slider that finished in the middle of the left-handed batter’s box. Maybe Swanson should consider golf? I heard that ball doesn’t move 15 feet horizontal—unless you have a slice, which pretty much everyone does let’s be honest. Ottavino’s slider goes against an embarrassing curveball from Taylor Rogers. Embarrassing in the sense that it made Hunter Dozier look like a fool. The thing was going right for his shin and he’s loading up like it’s a BP fastball.
Two very good changeups, but two very different ones. Dallas Kuechel’s has depth to it, but what jumps out is it looks like the first half of the zig-zag pitch from SlugFest LOADED (the one with Sammy Sosa on the cover). Whereas, Michael Kopech’s changeup is a bit more vintage. There’s some arm-side action, but its depth bears resemblance to Duck Hunt when you’d finally hit the duck and it would flutter down to the ground. (No ducks or other animals were hurt in the throwing of these pitches or making of these GIFS.)
In a stunning turn of events, we have a Chaz Roe slider and a Blake Treinen slider in the final Nastiest GIF Tournament of 2018. What you actually, probably didn’t see coming is these two heavyweights would face off in the first round. So ask yourself this, which is easier on the eyes: a slider that looks like it’s a batting practice fastball down and in to Edwin Encarnacion that runs away like your 10-year-old cousin that you just beat Madden for the seventh time after Thanksgiving Dinner, or one that’s like an annoying grandparent who comes in for a big kiss the second you see them for the holidays—it’s unavoidable, so you might as well get it out of the way and scurry to the dinner table, like Robbie Grossman did to first base. And no, it’s not like picking between your two favorite desserts on Thanksgiving, you can’t just have both—you’re committed to this diet and can only have one.