Major League Baseball
Pitching Ninja's filthiest pitches (so far) of 2023 MLB posteason
Major League Baseball

Pitching Ninja's filthiest pitches (so far) of 2023 MLB posteason

Published Oct. 18, 2023 2:39 p.m. ET

In the MLB postseason, every pitch is magnified. I love watching some of the best pitchers in baseball shine on the biggest stage as they kick their game up a notch, and to see brilliant new pitching stars burst onto the scene. The 2023 version of the playoffs has delivered a bunch of filthy pitching — and here are some of my favorites. 

1. Zack Wheeler's wicked sinkers and Aaron Nola's painted two-seamer

To give you an idea of how good Wheeler's postseason career has been, according to Codify Baseball, out of all pitchers who have thrown 40 innings or more in the postseason, Wheeler has the lowest WHIP in history at an amazing 0.695…yes, even lower than the legendary Mariano Rivera (0.759).

The Phillies hurler's sinker has been nasty and here are a couple of his best:


As an illustration of how much Wheeler's sinker moves, this is an overlay of his four-seam fastball and sinker. These pitches have the same velocity and start out in virtually the same tunnel, but look how far apart they end up! This shows one of many reasons why Wheeler has been so tough to hit.

Aaron Nola, the other half of the Phillies' dynamic duo, also had this beautifully painted two-seamer:

Philadelphia's pitching staff has an amazing 1.39 ERA this postseason with a 0.83 whip over their eight games, thanks in large part to their pair of aces.

2. Nathan Eovaldi's Houdini act

When you think of postseason aces, Nasty Nate should be one of the first pitchers who pops into your mind. While this isn't one pitch, this was perhaps the most impressive feat a pitcher has pulled off this postseason. Bases loaded, no outs, and the Rangers hurler somehow gets out of this, turning up his game with pure filth.

3. Orion Kerkering's sick sliders

The 22-year-old Kerkering shot up the Phillies minor league system this year, and looking at his stuff you can see why. He might not yet be a household name in some baseball circles, but his pitch arsenal is jaw-droppingly filthy. These unhittable sliders were up to 3,141 RPMs. Orion is not just a star, he's an entire constellation. 

4. Jhoan Duran's Splinker

Duran just might be the filthiest pitcher in baseball. His fastball topped out at 105 mph this season, he has a vicious curveball and an incredible "Splinker" (a cross between a sinker and a splitter). 

Duran unleashed this unfair postseason Splinker for the Twins. Look at the movement of this pitch!

Here's Duran's Splinker from a home plate view so you can see how fast that pitch gets on you.

This overlay shows how difficult it is to hit the Splinker. Not only does the pitch move a ton, but you also must protect against Duran's heater. When Duran tunnels his fastball and Splinker, all I can say to hitters is "good luck."

5. Justin Verlander's Expelliarmus Curveball

Verlander's career has had its share of magic, but JV goes full Harry Potter on this one. Edouard Julien's bat goes one way and helmet the other. Pure filth.

6. Zac Gallen's phenomenal tunneling

Grandmaster Gallen has proven himself to be one of the best pitchers in baseball and this tunneling of his elevated fastball and knuckle curve is a good example of why. If you saw the knuckle curve in isolation, you'd ask yourself "Why would you take that pitch??!" But seeing the Diamondbacks star's curveball tunneled with a fastball way out of the zone, you can see why you'd give up on it as a hitter.

Gallen's knuckle curve (standalone):

Gallen's knuckle curve and elevated fastball overlay:

7. Joe Kelly throwing 100 mph with a HESITATION windup!

Throwing 100 mph is tough enough. Imagine throwing 100 mph while almost doing the "Robot."  Joe Kelly messing with a hitter's timing while also throwing pure diesel is borderline unfair. 

8. Ryan Pressly's buzzsaw curveballs

Having Pressly at the end of games is one of the big reasons the Astros are a postseason mainstay. Check out these unhittable high-spin rate curveballs from Pressly. The first curveball was 3,378 RPMs and the second was 3,242 RPMs. Getting a hitter to duck out of the way of a curveball that ends up in the zone has to be one of the best feelings for a pitcher…and one of the worst for a hitter!

9. Jordan Montgomery's Deceptive Curveball

Montgomery has been dominant this postseason for the Rangers. A large part of Montgomery's success has been his hammer curveball, which comes in looking just like his heater, as analyst Jeff Passan explained.

Here's Montgomery's curveball:

And then check out Montgomery's curveball overlaid with his fastball. They look the same, until they're not.

10. Pablo Lopez's nasty changeup

Pablo Lopez was a breakout star this postseason for the Twins in giving up 1 run over 12.2 innings. While it's tough to summarize Lopez's brilliance in just one pitch, I'll just show you this nasty changeup as one of many reasons why Lopez was so good.

Bonus clip

Adolis Garcia: Two-sport athlete?

Garcia did a cartwheel after getting hit by a Framber Valdez pitch, so I decided to match him up with legendary gymnast Simone Biles.

And just for fun, here's Garcia taking his talents to the balance beam.

Rob Friedman is an MLB pitching analyst for FOX Sports whose work has been featured on many Major League Baseball broadcasts. Follow him on Twitter @PitchingNinja.


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