This is what a 31 mph pitch looks like

Utility man Holt fires 1-2-3 eighth inning with eephus pitches

August 8th, 2021

Josh Harrison had seen veteran utility man pitch when they were teammates on the Nationals last season. But he still had no idea what was coming when Holt took the mound in the eighth inning to mop up for the Rangers in their 12-3 loss to the A's on Saturday in Oakland.

Holt’s 31.1 mph eephus on the first pitch he threw was the slowest pitch to be a called strike in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Before Saturday, the slowest was a 41.3 mph called strike by Willians Astudillo on June 4 this season.

"He actually pitched for us in D.C. last year, so I knew what the scouting report was," Harrison said. "But actually facing him, it was a lot slower than I really remember.”

“The plan was to see how slow I could throw it and still throw strikes,” Holt said. “I was able to execute the plan to perfection today and have some nice defensive plays behind me.”

Holt’s assessment of his game plan was accurate. In addition to his pitches' record-breaking slowness, the game broadcasts had difficulty accurately labeling where the pitches landed due to their high arc, much to the amusement of Holt and teammate Charlie Culberson.

“The spin rate on those pitches wasn’t very high, so that’s something I’m going to have to work on,” Holt said.

Holt also said that he and Culberson were fighting for pitching privileges, but Holt won the honor, as Culberson was already in the game.

Along with the eephus, Holt occasionally mixed in a fastball with some actual zip, topping out at 82.7 mph.

“I saw an eephus pitch, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 30 mph pitch before," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "You watch him warming up down there. It looks like it’s not the first time he’s done that. Then, when he throws it 65 or 70, it looks like 100. Looks like he’s done that once or twice. A little levity at the end.”

Holt said his other goal was to lower his career ERA, and with the help of strong defense from Culberson (who fielded Matt Chapman's ball in the left-center gap and fired to second to retire him on an attempted double) and DJ Peters (who made a great catch on a deep fly ball off the bat of Tony Kemp), he did just that.