During spring training, the We Love Baseball crew is warming up for the regular season with nastiest pitches updates three times a week. The camera angles for some of the spring training broadcasts don’t help present the true nastiness of the pitches chosen. We are doing the best we can to accentuate the nastiness with the available resources.
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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Shane Bieber’s Knuckle-Curve
Shane Bieber is coming off one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory, when he posted a 1.63 ERA (albeit over just 60 games). Bieber has established himself as one of the best starters in baseball, and if yesterday was any indication, 2021 should be more of the same dominance. Bieber struck out six over four clean frames and sent down Jason Martin here, on this filthy knuckle-curve that drops out on the Rangers right fielder.
Kumar Rocker’s Slider
Moving on to the realm of college baseball, who else would we highlight other than Kumar Rocker, the current Vanderbilt Commodore and (most likely) future first pick in the draft. Rocker allowed his first earned run of the season on Friday night, but he was still able to send 14 batters down on strikes. Pittsburgh Pirates fans should get used to seeing his filthy slider, which was still working its magic, even on his 116th pitch of the night.
Jack Leiter’s Fastball
If you’re Jack Leiter, how do you follow up your teammate’s 14 K performance from the previous night? Well, I guess you could throw 16 strikeouts without letting up a hit, which is exactly what Leiter did. Here, he shoots a 95 mph fastball up in the zone that the opposing hitter stood no chance at. It’s a nasty offering which we should see in the big league soon enough. Long story short, it’ll be fun to watch these two prospects on their ride up to the big league. You can read more about them (and the rest of Vandy’s elite squad) here, courtesy of PL’s own Mitch Bannon.
Kenta Maeda’s Changeup
Kenta Maeda is coming off a season in which he finished second in the AL Cy Young race, so I guess you could say expectations are high for 2021. That being said, Maeda has met those expectations so far this spring, as he’s thrown 9.1 innings, K’d 12, and allowed zero runs. On Saturday, Maeda gave up his first run, but added six strikeouts over 5.1 frames in a dominant showing. Here he throws his signature changeup that gets Dalton Kelly hopelessly reaching out of the zone.
Dustin May’s Fastball
It is yet to be seen as to whether or not Dustin May will appear in the Dodgers’ rotation this season. Even if he doesn’t, May is an elite arm who should give opposing hitters serious trouble at the plate. On Saturday, he struck out seven hitters over 3.2 innings, and he even managed to get one by on Fernando Tatís Jr., who had no chance at this 100 mph fastball that gets blown right by him.
Gerrit Cole’s Fastball
Gerrit Cole was dominant in his outing on Sunday afternoon, striking out eight Jays over five innings. Here he paints the corner with a heater that Teoscar Hernández has no shot on. Cole might not be the best pitcher in New York, but he still remains the second (or third) best arm in the sport, and we should see more of the same dominance from him come April 1st.
Shohei Ohtani’s Slider
Finally today we feature Shohei Ohtani and his wicked slider which he bends past the bat of Wil Myers. Ohtani is probably the most intriguing player in baseball, and if he finally manages to throw over 100 innings and step to the plate 500+ times, well…that would be something. Ohtani showed he could play both sides of the ball today, as he hit two singles and walked once, while striking out five on the mound.