The nastiest pitch on every team in 2023
There are so many nasty pitchers in Major League Baseball today. Every pitching staff is full of pitchers with great stuff.
So let’s highlight some of the pitches across the league that we’re most looking forward to seeing when the season starts.
Here’s one nasty pitch to watch on every team in 2023.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Kevin Gausman’s splitter
Gausman has 264 strikeouts and 534 swings-and-misses on his splitter over the last two seasons, both the most by any pitcher on any single pitch type.
Orioles: Félix Bautista’s splitter
Bautista throws a 99 mph fastball but his splitter is his wipeout pitch — he held hitters to an .087 batting average against it in 2022, with 59 K’s in 93 plate appearances and a 53.3% whiff rate.
Rays: Tyler Glasnow’s curveball
Glasnow is back and his power curve is as nasty as ever, with batters going hitless against it with 11 strikeouts in 15 plate appearances (including the postseason) once he returned from Tommy John surgery late in 2022.
Red Sox: Chris Sale’s slider
Sale’s sweeping lefty slider is one of the great pitches of this generation — he has 956 career K’s with it — and we have the chance to see it over a full season for the first time in four years.
Yankees: Carlos Rodón’s four-seamer
Between Rodón and Gerrit Cole, the Yankees now have two of the most overpowering fastballs in baseball. Rodón’s four-seamer was one of MLB’s most valuable in 2022 and produced 135 strikeouts, tied for the most with Cole.
Guardians: Emmanuel Clase’s cutter
Clase has a 100 mph cutter. The Guardians closer has thrown 715 cutters in triple digits in his career, more than four times any other pitcher, including 205 at 101-plus and 14 at 102-plus.
Royals: Brady Singer’s sinker
Singer’s sinker averages 94 mph with 15 inches of arm-side run, and he’s great at sneaking a front-door sinker by you. The 26-year-old’s 338 called strikes and 46 called strikeouts on sinkers were both second-most of any pitcher.
Tigers: Alex Lange’s curveball
Lange’s breaking ball made him a breakout reliever in 2022. His curve generated a 57.8% whiff rate in 2022, the highest for any pitcher on any pitch type (min. 200 swings vs. that pitch type).
Twins: Jhoan Duran’s “splinker”
The rookie flamethrower’s splitter/sinker hybrid took baseball by storm in 2022. Duran became the first pitcher in pitch-tracking history to throw a 100-plus mph “offspeed” pitch and struck out Alex Verdugo with a 99.7 mph splitter on Aug. 29.
White Sox: Dylan Cease’s slider
The best pitch of 2022 by total run value, Cease’s slider accounted for 131 of his 227 strikeouts, just edging Gausman’s splitter for the most on any non-fastball pitch type.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani’s splitter
Ohtani has added a cutter and a 100 mph sinker to his repertoire over the last two seasons, and mastered his slider, but his splitter is still his signature pitch. MLB hitters have an .093 batting average and 59% strikeout rate against it since he joined the Angels.
Astros: Framber Valdez’s sinker
Valdez’s curveball is also great, but his 94 mph sinker, which drops 3.1 inches more than an average sinker, makes the lefty a ground-ball machine. The average launch angle against it in 2022 was negative-six degrees, and 69% of the batted balls against it were grounders.
Athletics: Shintaro Fujinami’s four-seamer
We only have the scouting reports right now, but those scouting reports say Shohei Ohtani’s old high school rival threw one of the hardest fastballs in NPB in 2022 — averaging over 96 mph and touching triple digits — with good carry and arm-side run.
Mariners: Luis Castillo’s changeup
The Mariners ace throws one of the best wipeout changeups in baseball, averaging 88.4 mph with 17.3 inches of horizontal break, making it the perfect complement to his two-seamer, which averages 96.9 mph with 17.8 inches of horizontal break in the same direction.
Rangers: Jacob deGrom’s slider
deGrom might have the most dominant fastball and the most dominant slider of any starting pitcher, but it’s the 92-96 mph slider that’s the most eye-popping pitch the longtime Mets ace is bringing to Texas.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Spencer Strider’s four-seamer
Strider was an old-school power pitcher as a rookie for Atlanta in 2022, racking up 120 strikeouts on a rising four-seamer that averaged 98.2 mph; 66 of those K’s were on elevated fastballs.
Marlins: Sandy Alcantara’s changeup
The best pitch thrown by the unanimous NL Cy Young Award winner, Alcantara’s changeup comes in at close to 92 mph — making it the second-hardest thrown by any starter in 2022 — and fades nearly 17 inches to the arm side.
Mets: Edwin Díaz’s slider
Díaz had one of the most dominant seasons by a closer ever, striking out over half the batters he faced with his slider as Weapon No. 1. It averaged 90.8 mph and hitters whiffed on 54.7% of their swings against it while striking out 88 times.
Nationals: MacKenzie Gore’s curveball
One of the top prospects the Nationals got back for Juan Soto, Gore throws a beautiful 12-6 curveball, which drops over 52 inches but breaks less than one inch horizontally.
Phillies: Aaron Nola’s knuckle-curve
Nola’s knuckle-curve gets great movement — it drops 3.3 inches and breaks 2.0 inches more than an average curveball — and he’s a master of commanding it, with 85 curveball K’s in ’22.
Brewers: Corbin Burnes’ cutter
Honorable mention to Devin Williams’ “airbender” changeup, but Burnes’ 95-plus mph cutter is a Cy Young-caliber pitch. Burnes has 231 strikeouts on cutters over the last two seasons … over 100 more than the next-closest pitcher.
Cardinals: Ryan Helsley’s four-seamer
Helsley’s breakout year as the Cardinals’ closer came on the back of a truly overpowering fastball. It was one of the hardest four-seamers in the league, averaging 99.6 mph, with elite spin (2,643 rpm) and rise (only one fastball dropped less on its way to the plate).
Cubs: Justin Steele’s slider
In his first full year as a starter, the lefty Steele posted a 3.18 ERA and 9.5 K/9 for the Cubs, and his best pitch was his big-breaking slider, which had great drop (3.3 inches above average) and sweep (5.5 inches above average).
Pirates: Mitch Keller’s slider
Keller has always had good stuff, and in his best season yet, his slider was the standout pitch from a stuff perspective — it was a top-10 slider by horizontal break (7.0 inches above average).
Reds: Hunter Greene’s four-seamer
In his second career start, the electric rookie set a pitch-tracking era record for the most 100 mph fastballs thrown in a game. By the end of the season, he’d broken his own record four more times.
D-backs: Zac Gallen’s knuckle-curve
Gallen has supreme command of his curveball, peppering the bottom edge of the strike zone with it. Nola and Aaron Civale were the only pitchers who threw a higher percent of their curves to the bottom edge than Gallen (29.7%).
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw’s curveball
Nothing wrong with a classic. Kershaw’s 12-6 curveball is one of the most beautiful pitches ever. In 2022, it dropped an average of nearly 67 inches, with less than five inches of horizontal movement.
Giants: Logan Webb’s sinker
Webb is one of the best sinkerballers, throwing a true bowling ball, with the most drop of any sinker in the league (8.7 inches above average). That’s why the average launch angle against it was negative-four degrees last year.
Padres: Josh Hader’s sinker
Hader put on a display with his fastball in the postseason, hitting triple digits for the first time in his career — and doing it six times, including a 100.0 mph strikeout of the Phillies’ Alec Bohm in the NLCS.
Rockies: Daniel Bard’s sinker
Bard’s comeback after nearly seven full years out of the big leagues is still astounding — and so is the fact that he’s still throwing 100 mph fastballs at age 37 after all that missed time. Bard has hit triple digits at least once every season since he returned to MLB in 2020.