The 5 Best Sinkers of 2023

The pitchers with the 5 best sinkers in baseball last year.

What’s up everybody!

I’m in the midst of releasing my annual pitch review series where I take a look back at the five best pitches of each pitch type from 2023, as ranked by PLV! Today, I’m taking a look at the five best sinkers from last year.

If you’d like a closer look at what this series is about, check out the first article in the series on the five best changeups of 2023. Also, check out my other articles in the series:

And if you’d like an in-depth primer on what PLV is and how it works, check it out here.

Anyway, let’s dive into the five best sinkers of 2023!


5. Jason Foley



Jason Foley turned in a great season out of the bullpen for the Tigers last year, posting a 2.61 ERA with a 2.73 FIP over 69 innings, and grabbing a few saves too.

This sinker is Foley’s bread and butter—he throws it 69% of the time, so it better be good. Turns out, it’s really good!

The pitch comes in around 97 MPH on average with great extension and lots of induced horizontal break (17.8 inches, good for 77th percentile in the league) and it works beautifully, not only as a pitch to limit hard contact (a 35.7% ICR is solid and a .259 wOBA against is even better), but also as a swing-and-miss pitch, posting an exceptional 40% chase rate and a solid 28.9% CSW.

Alongside the sinker, Foley peppers in a slider that had its problems last year, with a 54.8% ICR against it, as well as a changeup which, while it had just a 35% ICR, also got BABIP’d around a good bit.

While Foley’s secondaries aren’t much to write home about, the sinker certainly is, and there’s a reason he’s throwing it almost 70% of the time.


4. Hoby Milner



After a lot of up-and-down seasons, Hoby Milner looked incredible last year out of the bullpen for the Brewers, posting a 1.82 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over 64.1 innings.

Similar to Foley, Milner isn’t a strikeout guy, he’s a weak contact guy, and this sinker is a big driver of that, inducing a 33.9% ICR last year. The pitch comes in around 88.2 MPH on average, but it has a ton of movement, sporting 18.9 inches of iHB, good for 93rd percentile in the league (likely thanks in large part to his sidearm throwing style).

He tends to locate the pitch low and arm-side so it’s tumbling in on lefties and away from righties, and while it was good at inducing weak contact, it was also good at fooling hitters, sporting a 39.3% chase rate.

Milner paired the pitch with his curveball, which was actually his most-thrown pitch last year. He’d throw the curveball low and glove-side early on to snag a strike and then throw the sinker low and arm-side to get a swing and miss or some weak contact.

Milner also popped a slow four-seamer in around 20% of the time and a changeup low and away to righties around 17% of the time. The fastball was perfectly fine and the changeup worked pretty well as another chase pitch, with a 39.8% chase rate, though Milner had some trouble controlling the pitch, with a pretty high 12.4% mistake rate.

All that said, Milner was really good at limiting hard contact and fooling hitters last year, and it’s reasonable to expect he’ll be doing something similar this year.


3. Brusdar Graterol



Another reliever? Spoiler alert: they’re all relievers on this list, and Brusdar Graterol has been one of my favorite relievers to watch in recent years.

Graterol was awesome for the Dodgers last year, posting a 1.20 ERA over 67.1 innings, and this sinker was a big reason why. It’s always been an amazing pitch to watch—it comes in around 98.6 MPH on average with solid horizontal break, and it just really pops.

Graterol locates the sinker in the zone a ton, with a 62.5% zone rate last year, and hitters could do nothing with it, posting a measly 23.4% ICR and .240 wOBA against the pitch thanks in large part to its 78.3% groundball rate.

Graterol also mixes in a slider, cutter, and four-seamer here and there. If he’s got a swing-and-miss pitch, it’s the slider, which posted a 31.9% chase rate and 14.2% swinging-strike rate last year, neither of which are incredible numbers, but they’re decent.

That being said, strikeouts aren’t really Graterol’s game—he’s all about weak contact, and thanks in large part to this sinker, he was able to do that very effectively last year.


2. Matt Strahm



In his first season with the Phillies, Matt Strahm looked pretty great, posting a 3.29 ERA over 87.2 innings with a stellar 30.8% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate.

Strahm uses his four-seamer as his primary pitch, coming in around 93.4 MPH on average with loads of spin and good VAA, and it worked well as a whiff pitch with a 15.3% swinging-strike rate, 29% chase rate, and 32% CSW, all of which are pretty high for a four-seamer.

But this article is about his sinker! And Strahm’s sinker worked similarly to his fastball, coming in with a bunch of spin and working as a chase pitch, with a 36.7% chase rate. But given how much Strahm located the pitch in the zone (75.5% of the time), it did get hit a bit here and there, with a 46.2% ICR against it (which is a bit concerning).

Combined with his fastball and a really solid slider, Strahm was rock solid out of the bullpen last year and likely will be again this year.


1. Josh Hader



This shouldn’t be a surprise for just about anyone. Josh Hader is one of the best relievers in the game (with a bit of a hiccup in 2022) and his sinker is a big reason why.

Last year, Hader’s sinker came in around 96 MPH on average with great extension and a ton of iVB, and the pitch was killer. Pick a metric and it’s awesome: a 35% chase rate, a 14.2% swinging-strike rate, a 32.2% ICR, a .280 wOBA against, a 1% mistake rate, etc. It’s an awesome pitch and it helped propel Hader to a stellar 1.28 ERA and 33 saves over 56.2 innings.

The slider was equally awesome, with a 40.8% chase rate, 25.2% swinging-strike rate, 34.7% CSW, and a 22.2% ICR, and that combined with his sinker makes Hader a force to be reckoned with.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@artbymikep on Twitter) / Photo by Joe Robbins & Rob Curtis / Icon Sportswire

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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