By Rob Friedman aka “Pitching Ninja”
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
If you live for a dirty throw like I do, you’ve come to the right place. It was another outstanding week of performance. Here are my five dirtiest suggestions of the week!
1. Pitch of the week: Spencer Strider102.4 mph fastball
Why am I fielding a fastball that was fouled? Because at 102.4 mph Braves rookie Spencer Strider threw the fastest hit by a starting pitcher since at least 2008, when MLB started tracking pitch speed. Strider had 11 strikeouts against the Reds on Saturday and is averaging 13.6 K per nine innings this season.
I called Strider “Quadzilla” because of his tree trunk legs. He also has one of the best mustaches in the game. Strider’s stuff and feel on the mound make him a “must have” pitcher and a strong candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.
2. Shohei Ohtanithe antics of Curveball and PitchCom
Shohei Ohtani has been arguably the hottest pitcher in baseball over the last month or so, extending his scoreless streak to 21.2 innings and striking out 11 in his last game.
While his curveball is probably his fourth best, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dirty: Opponents have a 45% whiff against his curve. And that curveball was undoubtedly one of his best all season.
In addition to being a historic two-way player, Ohtani is also the king of memes. His mannerisms while using PitchCom to take cues are hilarious. Although, who knows, he might actually be listening to baseball to figure out what pitch he wants to be!
3. Jordan Hicks‘ 103 mph sinker with 18 inches of travel
Cardinals flamethrowing righty Jordan Hicks returned from injury this week, with his trademark blistering speed. This submersible had a speed of 103 miles per hour — and it was going amazingly 18 inches side of the hand.
Terrain that moves this fast should never be allowed to move this much!
4. Clayton Kershawthe cooperstown curve
While future Hall of Famer Kershaw throws his slider more often, his curveball is one of the most beautiful pitches in baseball history. He embodies everything beautiful about the game and deserves his own wing in Cooperstown.
This is a prime example of the pure artistry of Kershaw’s curveball. If I could frame this video and put it on my wall, I would.
5. Devin Williams‘lord of the air
Is it a change? Is it a screw ball? Neither term does justice. This is the highest “change” in spin rate in baseball. That’s why I coined the name “air lord”.
And those airbenders from Brewers reliever Devin Williams are disgusting. They’re basically like a left-handed slider. The rotational speeds of these two ridiculous steps are 2757 and 2856 RPM. Looking at those, you can see why Williams is striking out 15.3 batters per nine innings.
Honorable Mention: Minor League Dirt
A few promising minor leaguers make my share of dirtiest pitches of the week. I expect to see them in the major leagues soon. 😉
Chris Sale of the Portland Sea Dogs had this rogue back foot slider that produced a “sword.” (The sword is a bad swing that looks like the hitter is swinging a sword instead of a club.)
Jacob deGrom of the St. Lucie Mets had those 100 mph fastballs and wicked sliders, getting all five of his strikeouts. My discerning eye tells me he should have a bright future ahead of him!
Seriously, Major League Baseball is better off with Sale and deGrom on the mound, and I can’t wait for them to be fully healthy and back with their clubs.
Rob Friedman is a well-known pitching analyst on Twitter and YouTube, and his work has been featured on many Major League Baseball broadcasts.
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