The 5 Best Splitters of 2023

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

What’s up everybody!

I’m wrapping up 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 finishing up the series with a look at the five best splitters 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 splitters of 2023!


5. Alex Cobb



If you’ve been paying attention to Alex Cobb over the years, then him being featured on a list of the best splitters in baseball should be no surprise given that 1. there aren’t all that many pitchers who throw splitters relative to how many pitchers throw other pitch types and 2. Cobb’s “The Thing” has been his calling card for years, and it was great yet again last year.

Cobb mainly goes with a combination of this splitter and his sinker—together they make up almost 80% of the pitches he throws. However, the approach Cobb takes with those two pitches might surprise you, as he often throws the splitter early in counts and works in the sinker in two-strike situations.

The splitter comes in around 89 MPH on average with a good bit of horizontal movement to it and Cobb likes to locate it right at the edge of the strike zone arm-side, meaning it tumbles down and into righties and away to lefties. It worked well as a chase pitch, with a 41.9% chase rate, though when it was in the zone it didn’t get many whiffs, with just a 13.8% swinging-strike rate. The pitch was good at inducing weak contact too, with a .280 wOBA against it as well as a 37.1% ICR.

As for his sinker, hitters had a bit easier of a time hitting that pitch, with a 39.9% ICR against it and a .350 wOBA. It comes in around 94 MPH on average with a decent bit of horizontal break and was pretty good at getting called strikes with a 26.2% called strike rate, good for 85th percentile in the league.

Cobb also peppered in a curveball 16% of the time that got knocked around quite a bit (43.9% ICR) and a slider that did the same (42.1% ICR). Not having a legit third pitch really hurts Cobb’s ability as a starter, but with a great splitter and a decent sinker, he’s still able to turn in seasons like last year’s 3.87 ERA over 28 starts.


4. Nathan Eovaldi



Another name that shouldn’t be a surprise, Nathan Eovaldi’s splitter has been a main focus of his repertoire for a while now and was again last year, helping propel him to a solid season with a 3.63 ERA and 3.88 FIP over 25 starts.

Last year was quite a comeback for Eovaldi. He saw his velocity tank in 2022 and ended up on the IL, then came over to the Rangers and saw his fastball velocity jump back up while his secondaries improved.

Eovaldi mainly goes with a fastball/splitter/cutter mix while also working in a curveball and slider here and there. The fastball was coming in around 95 MPH on average last year with an awesome VAA but really bad induced vertical break, which meant the pitch got hit around a bit to the tune of a 40.1% ICR.

But this splitter was awesome—it works beautifully against lefties and works pretty well against righties too. Last year, the pitch posted a 42% chase rate, 19.4% swinging-strike rate, 31.8% ICR, and a .249 wOBA against, all of which are excellent numbers. Basically, the pitch worked really well as a chase and swing-and-miss pitch and didn’t get hit particularly hard either. The cutter was also excellent, coming in around 90 MPH on average with a good bit of break, and was good at limiting hard contact.

The main issue with Eovaldi is his health, in my opinion. He loses his velocity, regains it, and then starts pumping gas in the playoffs—that was awesome and made for an awesome season for the Rangers, but I worry about what kind of endurance he’ll have during the year.


3. Kyle Finnegan



Kyle Finnegan had a decent season out of the bullpen for the Nationals last year, posting a 3.76 ERA and 28 saves through 69.1 innings, though there were definitely things to be concerned about with him.

This splitter isn’t one of those things though. He threw the pitch about a quarter of the time last year and it worked pretty darn well. Now, you’d probably expect that Finnegan would use his splitter as his out pitch, but that’s where you would be wrong. Finnegan actually used the splitter early in counts pretty frequently to snag a strike, logging a 14.2% called strike rate, good for the 88th percentile in the league.

It got some chases and whiffs for sure, but what this splitter was good at was getting called strikes and inducing weak contact, as hitters had just a 23.1% ICR and .191 wOBA against the pitch. Finnegan did have some trouble commanding the pitch though, as he had a 9.9% mistake rate with it, worse than average, which probably helped contribute to its 25% home-run-to-fly-ball rate.

Where Finnegan really got in trouble was his fastball. The pitch comes in at 97 MPH on average, which is awesome, but he threw it in the zone quite a bit and had similar command troubles. Opposing hitters had a 41.3% ICR and 19.5% home-run-to-fly-ball rate against the pitch, which is not something you want from a pitch you throw 70% of the time.


2. Jhoan Duran



Jhoan Duran is one of the most fun pitchers to watch in baseball, and this “splinker” is one of the biggest reasons why, it’s a wonder of a pitch.

Coming in at 98.3 MPH on average (which is still insane to me), Duran’s splitter has a good bit of horizontal break to it, a ton of spin, and was a fabulous pitch for Duran to throw early in counts to snag a strike, posting a 12.2% called strike rate, good for 80th percentile in the league.

It also worked pretty decently as a chase pitch, with a 35.8% chase rate and a decent 15.5% swinging-strike rate to go along with it. But where it really shined was how little opposing hitters could do with it. Last year, Duran’s splitter had a 24.6% ICR and a .263 wOBA against it, inducing loads of weak contact.

That pitch alongside his 102 MPH fastball (that’s the average velocity) that’s a work of art and a rock solid curveball helped propel Duran to a 2.45 ERA, 27 saves, and a 32.9% strikeout rate over 62.1 innings and should propel him to something similar this year.


1. Kodai Senga



This should be no surprise to basically anyone if you’re familiar with Kodai Senga’s game.

Senga’s Ghost Fork is an incredible pitch, and it’s arguably his main selling point. The pitch comes in around 83 MPH on average and is a phenomenal swing-and-miss pitch, posting a 38.4% chase rate, 27.3% swinging-strike rate, and 33.1% CSW last year, all of which are stellar numbers.

And even if hitters could make contact with it, they did nothing with it, with a .185 wOBA against the pitch (though a 37% ICR, while better than average, suggests that the pitch should’ve been hit a bit more).

Senga’s most-thrown pitch is his four-seamer, which he throws around 37% of the time, and it’s a pitch that should be better than it is. Senga gets really good VAA and iVB on the pitch, and it comes in around 95.6 MPH on average, which is solid, but he never throws it upstairs, with just a 42.9% hiLoc last year, 16th percentile in the league.

Opposing hitters had a .320 wOBA against the pitch, which is fine, but the 45.8% ICR they had against it is very scary. Now it’s entirely possible he starts locating the fastball differently and that, combined with his good cutter and this killer Ghost Fork propels him to another good season, but that’s a big if.  And it’s an even bigger if considering he’s dealing with shoulder problems, as of this writing.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@artbymikep on Twitter) / Photo by Scott Winters & Keith Gillett / 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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