Hitting off of any Major League pitcher is extremely difficult, and doing so requires the perfect cocktail of hard work, technique, god-given talent, and a solid approach at the plate. However, hitting any of these eight pitches requires one thing and one thing only…luck.
Corey Kluber’s Slider
We’re calling this a slider because that’s what Kluber calls it, but in reality it’s more of a slurve. Regardless of the semantics, this pitch has more spin than a SoulCycle class, and the Klubot can throw it in any count. While his two-seam and his cutter are not to be overlooked, it’s the slurve concoction that can make that batter’s box feel like hell.
Zach Britton’s Sinker
Hitting a 98 mph fastball? Not easy. Hitting a 98 mph sinker? Nearly impossible. You don’t save 50 straight games and have an ERA of 0.54 without at least one pitch that’s un-hittable, and Britton’s sinker is just that. Oh and just to make matters worse, he’s left-handed and has a dirty curve. Don’t go pro, kids, it’s not worth it.
Clayton Kershaw’s Everything
To include only one of Kershaw’s pitches on the list would be criminal, since everything he throws is so filthy it makes the pre-cleaned kitchen in a Bounty commercial look spotless. Whether it’s his pinpoint fastball command, curveball that drops like the beat at a Diplo concert, or his slider that he can throw for a strike at any time, Kershaw is in a league of his own when it comes to missing bats.
Felix Hernandez’s Split-Change
Like Kershaw, everything Felix throws could be on this list, but it’s his split-change that truly sets him apart. It’s only about 5-6 mph slower than his fastball, but it looks exactly the same coming out of his hand and then like a whiny European soccer player hoping for a penalty, it takes a dive. One does not simply earn the nickname of “King” without a pitch that brings subjects to their knees.
Edwin Diaz’s Fastball
Diaz burst onto the scene last season and has already laid claim to the Mariners closing role. This is thanks in most part to his 100 mph fastball that has more late life than an after hours party at a senior living facility. What’s scary is how easy he makes it look. Say hello to baseball’s next dominant closer.
Kenley Jansen’s Cutter
Carrying on Mariano Rivera’s legacy, Kenley Jansen throws predominantly one pitch to outstanding results. That pitch is a 94-98 mph cutter. Just like Rivera, it can be baffling to see opposing hitters unable to make contact with a pitch they know is coming, but the subtle, late run of Jansen’s cutter makes solid contact harder to come by than true fans at a Dodger game. #JustThereForTheInsta
Andrew Miller’s Slider
Perhaps nothing in baseball is more demoralizing than getting hit by a pitch and striking out at the same time. Andrew Miller has made this routine for opposing right-handed hitters. The giant lefty starts his slider in the middle of the plate and by the time the defenseless batter swings, the ball has already left a gnarly bruise on their back foot. Ouch and ouch.
Marco Estrada’s Changeup
Marco Estrada is proof that you don’t need an electric fastball to be nasty. While his heater tops out at about 90, it’s his unbelievable changeup that keeps hitters off-balance like a drunk slackliner. Sometimes the only thing a pitcher needs to dominate is command and the ability to change speeds.