10 nasty new pitches to watch in '22

April 20th, 2022

Plenty of baseball's nastiest pitches have returned in 2022 -- Clayton Kershaw's slider, Corbin Burnes' cutter, Kevin Gausman's splitter, Justin Verlander's four-seamer, and on and on.

But how about these new ones? There are some nasty new pitches on display this season, whether it's a rookie debuting with electric stuff, or an ace adding to his arsenal, or a veteran revamping one of his old pitches.

Here are 10 of the nastiest new pitches you'll want to watch in 2022.

Hunter Greene's fastball

Greene is the must-watch pitcher in baseball right now, and it's because of his fastball. The 22-year-old is already setting records with his velocity. He's averaging 100.0 mph with his four-seamer, he's reached 102, he's striking out hitters like Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson with triple-digit heat, and the 39 fastballs he threw 100-plus mph in his last start are the most in a single game in the pitch-tracking era.

Andrew Heaney's slider

Heaney came to the Dodgers, redesigned his breaking ball to the "sweeper" style of slider, and now the lefty has a zero ERA and 16 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. The spin axis of his new slider is more horizontal than his old curveball, producing a movement direction that's more left-to-right than before. It's working. Ten of Heaney's 16 K's are on his new slider -- including eight in his last start -- and hitters are swinging and missing at it over half the time.

Matt Brash's slider

The Mariners' No. 6 prospect has some of the nastiest stuff in baseball, and his nastiest pitch is his slider. Brash's slider drops four inches more than an average slider, and it breaks over nine inches more horizontally than an average slider. The spin direction also mirrors his fastball, which means they're harder to differentiate for the hitter before they break in opposite directions -- Brash's four-seamer breaks 12 inches to the right, and his slider breaks 17 inches to the left.

Jhoan Duran's splitter

The "splinker" is one-of-a-kind. As fast as the fastest sinkers and as wipeout as the nastiest splitters, the Twins' No. 6 prospect's "offspeed" pitch is unique enough to overshadow even his triple-digit fastball. Duran is throwing the splinker, classified by Statcast as a splitter, at an average velocity of 96.4 mph, which would make it the hardest splitter in history … by over two full mph (Jeurys Familia averaged 94 mph in 2015). Duran has topped out at an insane 98.9 mph with the pitch, and he struck out J.D. Martinez with one at 98.6 mph. The splinker has a 50% whiff rate so far.

Luis Severino's cutter

The Yankees' former ace is back in the rotation for the first time since 2019, and he looks like his old self, with his fastball sitting in the upper 90s. What's new is the cutter. Severino is employing a cutter as a main pitch in his arsenal for the first time, along with his normal slider. The cutter is averaging 91.2 mph, getting 60% swings-and-misses, and he's throwing it 20% of the time. Sevy's best one so far was 95.4 mph right on the corner to punch out Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Lucas Luetge's slider

The lefty Luetge is one of multiple Yankees who have adopted a "sweeper" slider in 2022. (The Yankees call this kind of slider a "whirly.") And Luetge's is moving a ton. It's averaging 21.2 inches of horizontal break, more than any other regularly thrown slider in baseball. Luetge's slider last year averaged only 9.2 inches of horizontal break. Maybe that's why he's more than doubled his slider whiff rate from 24.8% to 57.1%.

Ethan Roberts' slider

Roberts is an unheralded Cubs prospect (ranked No. 30) whose slider sweeps like Luetge's, but from the right side. The 24-year-old is averaging 20.6 inches of horizontal break on his slider, right behind Luetge, and his +10.4 inches of horizontal break above average is the best mark in baseball. (Movement vs. average is compared to pitches thrown with similar velocity and release point, which is why Roberts' slider can have more horizontal movement vs. average even though Luetge has more total movement.) Here he is striking out Roberto Pérez that broke two full feet from right to left.

Nick Martinez's changeup

Martinez is back in the Majors for the first time since 2017 after pitching the last four seasons in Japan, and the Padres righty has some new stuff compared to his last big league go-round with the Rangers. Martinez's best pitch looks like his revamped changeup, which is slower than the one he used to throw (79.6 mph in 2022, vs. 85.5 mph in '17) and gets a lot more drop (37.8 inches in '22, vs. 29.1 inches in '17). Opponents are 0-for-9 against Martinez's changeup so far and have whiffed on 40% of their swings.

Alex Cobb's sinker

There was a lot of talk in Spring Training about Cobb gaining velocity after adopting a Driveline weighted-ball program, and the regular season is showing those gains are real. Cobb racked up 10 strikeouts in his 2022 debut, and while his old split-change is still his wipeout pitch, it's working so well because of how he's pairing it with his much-improved sinker. Cobb's sinker has bumped from 92.7 mph to 94.5 mph, and he's throwing 96-plus mph for the first time in his entire career. Cobb's sinker has also added arm-side run -- its horizontal break is up to 17.2 inches from 15.5 inches. The sinker spins in the same direction as his splitter, and the added velocity and movement differentiate the sinker from the split. It's not surprising Cobb got five K's apiece on each of them in his first start.

Tylor Megill's slider

Megill was a pleasant surprise for the Mets as a rookie last year, but he looks a lot more overpowering in 2022. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has made significant gains in velocity, and his slider looks much nastier than it did before. Megill is getting over four inches more drop on his slider than he did last year, taking it from movement that was over an inch below average to movement that is over three inches above average. Through his first two starts, Megill was getting whiffs on two thirds of the swings against his slider, with no hits allowed and five strikeouts in eight at-bats decided on sliders.