The most interesting new pitches of 2024

April 12th, 2024

It might not quite be “best shape of my life,” so far as annual Spring Training rites go, but “I’m working on a new pitch” is a close second.

Every year, it seems like dozens of pitchers show up to camp saying they’ve learned a new pitch that’s going to change everything. More often than not, you see that pitch a few times in the Cactus or Grapefruit Leagues, then not at all in the regular season, forgotten as quickly as the team heads north. But sometimes, you get Pablo López learning a sweeper and ending up with Cy Young votes. Sometimes, a new pitch can change a career.

Who, then, have the best new pitches early on in 2024?

It might be worthwhile to first define what a “new pitch” even means. We looked at pitches thrown at least 15 times this year, coming from pitchers who threw that kind of pitch no more than 1% of the time last season. (We also limited it to pitchers who threw at least 100 total pitches last year and 50 so far this year. Sorry, Dane Dunning. The new forkball you have thrown exactly one time this year doesn’t count, yet.) In some cases, a “new pitch” is an entirely new offering, unlike anything the pitcher had ever shown before. In other cases, it might be a tweaked version of an older pitch, enough to warrant a new label.

As of Thursday, there were 39 “new pitches” that fit our qualifications. (There would have been 63 if we’d lowered the minimum from 15 times to five.) The most popular (19) were cutters, which might be surprising in a world where it seems like everyone is trying to add a sweeper or a splitter – though we’ve seen plenty of each of those as well. (That’s five new splitters and four new sweepers, though there’s also four new sinkers, befitting its first-time status in 2023 as a positive run value pitch.)

The tricky part in evaluating them, aside from how early in the season it is, is that every pitch exists within the greater world of a pitcher’s repertoire, which is to say that a new cutter might be less about being dominant by itself and more about making it harder for the batter to tell apart the fastball from the slider. Spencer Turnbull’s new sweeper, for example, has been strong-not-elite by itself, yet it’s hard to ignore that he’s started his Phillies career with 11 scoreless innings after adding the new breaker. Others, like Spencer Strider’s new curveball, looked at first like elite offerings, but might not be seen again for some time due to Strider’s arm injury.

To narrow it down, we’ll take the 10 of those pitches that have been worth at least a +1 in Statcast run value and see what’s working.

All numbers up to date as of April 11.


Logan Gilbert, Mariners (17% usage, 3 hits allowed)

Gilbert is a tinkerer. In his rookie season of 2021, he was approximately 85% four-seam/slider. In 2022, he added a lightly-used sinker, then a splitter in 2023, and now, the cutter. It seems clear what he was trying to do, which is to fill in the velocity gap between his slider and his fastball. Just look at the speeds of his four main pitches last year, and where he’s throwing the cutter this year.

  • 95.7 mph – four-seamer
  • // 91.2 mph – the new cutter //
  • 88.7 mph – slider
  • 83.6 mph – splitter
  • 80.3 mph – curveball

See the gap above 88? What had been happening was that batters could easily identify that anything coming in hard was going to be his four-seamer, which – while fast – is relatively straight, and allowed a slugging percentage against 90 points higher last year than it had in 2021. Adding the cutter gives him something else in that harder velocity band, giving hitters something new to think about. So far, he’s thrown it 46 times and allowed only three singles – and it’s rated, early on, as the top cutter in baseball by FanGraphs’ Stuff+ metric.

Garrett Crochet, White Sox (16% usage, 3 hits allowed)

One of the finest surprises of the early season has been one of history’s least expected Opening Day starters, because when Crochet took the mound on March 28, it was his first career start. It made him one of only nine pitchers in the last 110 years to make his first career start in his team’s first game of the season. Crochet, the 11th pick in the 2020 Draft, was pitching in the playoffs four months after he was drafted, but entering this season his career consisted of 72 relief appearances around a 2022 that was missed entirely due to Tommy John surgery.

As a reliever, Crochet was mostly fastball/slider, occasionally flashing a changeup. Preparing to be a starter, he worked on a cutter, because, like Gilbert, he had a gap to fill. That’s partially about velocity – there’s a wide space between Crochet’s 96 mph fastball and 84 mph slider – but also about movement. The fastball had some arm-side run, and the slider would break towards his glove side. Since the changeup was barely used, hitters had to worry about only two distinct movement profiles. Now, the cutter fills in the space between the two:

“Getting a fourth pitch in there, he can just show and keep hitters honest,” White Sox senior pitching advisor Brian Bannister said after Crochet’s first start. “It keeps them off the fastball. It gives him the ability to turn the lineup over multiple times successfully.”

Carlos Rodón, Yankees (16% usage, 0 hits against)

Though Rodón has more of a track record than Crochet does, there are a lot of similarities here. Crochet’s former Chicago teammate is also a hard-throwing left-hander who primarily relied on a four-seamer and a slider, only occasionally flashing a changeup or sometimes a curveball. After a disastrous Yankee debut in 2023, Rodón arrived at camp intent on adding a new cutter, for a whole lot of the same reasons outlined for Gilbert and Crochet. While a 1.72 ERA through three starts probably overstates how good he’s been, he’s still been massively better than last year, in part because his new pitch has yet to allow a hit.

It was especially noticeable on Tuesday against the Marlins, where he actually threw the cutter more than the slider, showing that it might be less a supporting pitch to The Big Two and more a secondary offering on par with his slider. Again, as with the names above, there’s value here in filling in the velocity gap between his 95 mph fastball and 87 mph slider, and also filling in a blank spot in the movement profile, as well. Interestingly enough, however, Stuff+ doesn’t quite like it as much as Gilbert’s or Crochet’s.

Cody Bolton, Mariners (30% usage, 0 hits against)

Bolton, currently on the Injured List with kidney stones, may not so much have “added a new pitch” as “shown us a pitch he once had,” because he’d had a cutter in the Minors, yet didn’t show it at all in 16 outings for the Pirates last year. That’s because he was worried it was becoming too similar to his four-seamer. Still, it counts here because he threw it in the Majors for the first time in 2024, and so far, he’s yet to allow a hit on it.

This one is different from the bigger names above, however, because Bolton isn’t trying to fill in the space between his four-seamer and slider. Instead, he’s all but abandoned the four-seamer, despite the fact that he was throwing it at 95 mph last season – likely, one imagines, because it had below-average movement and got lit up with a .378 batting average and a .667 slugging percentage.

Instead, he’s essentially turned himself into a different pitcher, increasing the usage of a little-thrown sinker that mirrors his sweeper going in the other direction, and the cutter helps keep hitters off the sweeper, which is now the only glove-side pitch. In a limited look so far, Stuff+ rates it as similar to Crochet’s.


Zack Wheeler, Phillies (13% usage, 2 hits against)

It’s not really as if Wheeler, one of the top starters of the last half-decade, actually needed a new weapon. (And it’s technically not new, since Wheeler had toyed around with a splitter occasionally with the Mets, but it had been years since we’d seen it.) He certainly wasn’t lacking for confidence when discussing it during Spring Training.

"I think this could put me over the top and hopefully get a Cy Young," Wheeler said. "That's what I want to do, and if I can take care of lefties the way I take care of righties, hopefully that'll take care of itself. It just opens up the book a little more to a lefty. They did a lot better off me last year than righties did. Me and (pitching coach Caleb Cotham) had a lot of discussions this offseason about it.”

With a 1.89 ERA and a 20/2 K/BB in his first three starts, he’s certainly off to a Cy start. How much of it is about the splitter? As he noted, it’s more of a weapon against lefties, who are seeing 70% of the splitters he’s throwing. It’s largely replacing the cutters and sweepers that lefties saw from him last year, and the changeups they saw in years before that. Wheeler is maybe overstating that he had any troubles against lefties last year, because a .261 average and a .422 slugging allowed is hardly problematic. But it’s not the .194/.313 he limited righties to, either. Even a mild improvement against lefties could be massive.

Dean Kremer, Orioles (18% usage, 0 hits against)

A decent back-end starter in parts of four seasons with Baltimore, Kremer showed up this year with a cutter that’s moving a little differently and a splitter that’s brand new, replacing an old changeup. Without making too much of a 44% whiff rate on it so far – we’re talking eight misses on 18 swings, after all – it’s absolutely vital for Kremer to find a better putaway pitch, because he’s had a below-average strikeout rate without the elite command or contact suppression ability to make up for it.

Or, at least, he didn’t have that. In his first two starts of 2024, Kremer has walked just one. What’s happening here is that he’s throwing the curveball higher, up from an average of 1.8 feet last year to 2.2 feet this year, which is gaining him more swings against it. The new splitter is both A) his pitch that has induced the most swings and B) his pitch that gets the most whiffs. The end result (again in just two starts is this): Kremer is ahead in the count a career-high 38% of the time, well up from last year’s 28%. Stuff+, to be fair, deeply dislikes this pitch. Then again, he’s only thrown it 32 times.

Bryce Miller, Mariners (24% usage, 2 hits against)

Perhaps the most vocal of the “I’ve added a new splitter” pitchers this spring, Miller spent much of his rookie year trying to find secondary pitches to work with his primary four-seamer, which he threw 58% of the time last season. This year, that’s already down to 37%, as he’s ditched his old changeup and curveball and used the splitter a quarter of the time. It’s already showing up with some of the largest drop numbers in the game; like Wheeler, he is mostly (though not entirely) using it as a weapon against lefties.


Dominic Leone, White Sox (31% usage, 1 hit against)

“Well-traveled” hardly begins to describe Leone, who has pitched for nine teams in 11 seasons – and was on three clubs in 2023 alone. Leone is off to a rough start, having allowed three homers already, but what’s interesting here is that all of those came off of one of his fastball variations. Meanwhile, his primary pitch this year has been his changeup, which he’d tried twice before (2015, 2019), unsuccessfully, to incorporate. A winter of pitch design work on it has given it a new shape, and at 92 mph, it’s been excellent.

Now: It might not matter if he can’t keep the ball in the park on his fastball, but if he can manage that, the new and improved changeup might just make him attractive to team No. 10 later on this summer, given Chicago’s rebuilding status.


Zack Thompson, Cardinals (23% usage, 2 hits against)

Classified as a forkball, you might prefer to consider Thompson’s low-spin pitch a splitter (or “splange,” if you must), but it’s not a changeup. This pitch is thrown 3 mph slower and with 300 RPM less spin than his 2023 changeup was, and it drops 10 inches more. Whatever you want to call it, it’s been Thompson’s most effective new pitch in an otherwise difficult early going.

For the lefty Thompson, this is almost exclusively a pitch used to attack right-handed batters, who posted an .800 OPS against him last season. Despite the ugly overall line, it’s worked; Thompson has thrown it 51 times, and only once has he allowed a batted ball at more than 100 mph worth of exit velocity. (Which ended up being a groundout, anyway.) The issues here are mostly with his four-seamer and curveball, and those will need to be sorted out, but this new pitch looks like a keeper, early on.