The Nastiest Pitches of 2020 Tournament: Exciting Eight

The Smokin' Sixteen is over, and now the matchups get very interesting

2020 was a shorter season than we all hoped it would be, but it was also one we will never forget. While it lacked longevity, it certainly didn’t lack excitement—and around these parts, one of the most exciting aspects of a season is of course the selection of nasty pitches. There was no shortage of options to choose from for this year’s iteration of the Nastiest Pitches tournament and it was incredibly difficult to whittle the selection down to only 16 pitches. Alas, we have gone through hundreds of pitches to bring you what you’ll see below.

Now, there are a few rules we must follow:

  • Please vote for whichever pitches you feel are the nastiest in each matchup. The best thing about Nastiest Pitches is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder—we all have different definitions of what we think a nasty pitch looks like, so there will likely be some surprises in the results.
  • You can only vote on a matchup once, so make sure you pick the one you absolutely want.
  • Voting will continue until 12:00 a.m. EST the following morning.

Without further ado, here’s how the 2020 bracket shapes up after the Smokin’ Sixteen:


Bracket Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)


Sixto Sánchez‘ Changeup (1)






Adam Ottavino’s Slider (2)




No surprises here, as both of these pitches ran away with a victory in their respective first-round matchups. Adam Ottavino gets the featured image today; will lady luck be on his side in the Exciting Eight? Or will Sixto continue rolling on to the next round? Only you can decide!


Sixto Sánchez’ Changeup vs. Adam Ottavino’s Slider


Kevin Gausman’s Splitter (4)






Yu Darvish’s Slider (2)




Kevin Gausman’s splitter registered the first upset of the tournament, knocking out Codi Heuer’s devastating sinker that nobody besides me seemed to like. Oh well. Gausman will now face this exciting Yu Darvish slider that I’m still jazzed about and this is going to be a fun matchup to keep an eye on.


Kevin Gausman’s Splitter vs. Yu Darvish’s Slider


Devin Williams‘ Changeup (1)






Charlie Morton’s Curveball (3)




It should shock nobody that Devin Williams moved on in convincing fashion over Brusdar Graterol’s filthy sinker, but he’s got a tough matchup today against Charlie Morton’s ankle-breaking curveball. You may want to be proactive and tape your ankles up after watching this pitch. Morton has a really good shot at pulling off the upset, but Williams’ changeup was probably the best pitch in baseball this season, so it’s going to be a tough matchup.


Devin Williams’ Changeup vs. Charlie Morton’s Curveball


Kenta Maeda’s Changeup (4)






Tanner Houck’s Slider (2)




Kenta Maeda and his changeup were in a dead-heat with Dan Straily and his filthy changeup for most of last night. And when I say it was a dead-heat, I mean it was literally almost tied.



That tweet got picked up by Twins Twitter, however, and they vowed to push their man to the top. And boy, did Twins Twitter deliver. Maeda ended up pulling away, winning with two-thirds of the vote in the most voted-on matchup of the tournament.




Will they show up again to help carry Maeda past the impressive rookie, Tanner Houck, who took down the reigning Cy Young award winner? Only time will tell.


Kenta Maeda’s Changeup vs. Tanner Houck’s Slider


Tune in tomorrow to see who moves onto the Filthy Four!


Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire | Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Ben Brown

Ben is a lifelong resident of the great state of Maine who loves the wild and wacky intricacies of baseball. During the summer months, you'll find him either in the woods at a golf course or floating on the water upta camp, both with a local beer in hand and a game on the radio.

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