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Heat-Seekers: Exploring MLB’s Best Fastball Pitchers

Best Fastball-Throwers in Major League Baseball

In the world of Major League Baseball, there is perhaps no pitch more iconic than the fastball. With its raw speed and power, the fastball has long been a staple of the game and a benchmark for the skill of individual pitchers.

In this article, we will explore some of the best fastball-throwers in the league, breaking down what makes them so effective and highlighting some of their most impressive performances.

Gerrit Cole

When it comes to pure velocity, few pitchers can match the prowess of

Gerrit Cole. Standing at 6’4″ and weighing in at 220 pounds, the right-hander has been clocked throwing his four-seam fastball at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.

Cole’s fastball has been consistently one of the fastest in the league since he entered the majors in 2013, and his ability to throw it with accuracy and movement has made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game.

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom is another pitcher known for his ability to throw heat. However, what sets him apart from many of his peers is his ability to pair his fastball with a devastating slider that often leaves batters flailing.

The New York Mets ace has consistently ranked among the league leaders in fastball velocity, with an average of 96.8 miles per hour in 2020. However, it is the combination of his fastball and slider that has made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.

Spencer Strider

While not yet a household name,

Spencer Strider has quickly made a name for himself in the Atlanta Braves organization as one of their top young pitching talents. Often compared to

Gerrit Cole for his fastball velocity and mechanics, the 23-year-old from Florida has been known to reach speeds of up to 99 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball.

While Strider is still developing his secondary pitches and overall game, his fastball has already made him a force to be reckoned with on the mound.

Relief Pitchers

While starting pitchers often get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to fastball velocity, there are many relief pitchers who can also throw the ball with incredible speed. Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets is perhaps one of the most well-known, with a fastball that has reached speeds of 104.3 miles per hour.

Emmanuel Clase of the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Helsley of the St. Louis Cardinals are also notable for their ability to throw a fastball that approaches triple digits.

Importance of the Fastball Pitch

Now that we’ve explored some of the best fastball-throwers in the league, it’s worth taking a step back to examine why the fastball is such an important pitch in the first place. For young pitchers just starting out, the fastball is often the first pitch they learn, as it provides an important foundation for more complex pitches like the changeup or curveball.

However, the fastball also remains an integral part of the arsenal of experienced pitchers, as its speed and movement can be difficult for batters to handle. In fact, for many pitchers, the effectiveness of their fastball can often be the deciding factor in whether or not they succeed at the major league level.

Even if a pitcher has other impressive pitches, if their fastball lacks velocity or movement, batters may be able to tee off on the ball with ease. On the other hand, a pitcher with impeccable control and an unhittable fastball can dominate even the most talented of batters.

Conclusion

The fastball is a pitch that has been a defining part of Major League Baseball for over 100 years. From the iconic fastball of Walter Johnson to the devastating heaters of modern-day pitchers like

Gerrit Cole and

Jacob deGrom, its history is long and storied.

Whether you are a young pitcher just starting out or an experienced professional, the fastball remains integral to the game, providing a foundational skill that is essential to success on the mound.

Gerrit Cole’s Fastball

When it comes to throwing a fastball, few pitchers do it better than

Gerrit Cole. From his days at UCLA to his current position as the ace of the New York Yankees, Cole’s fastball has been a defining part of his game, helping him to become one of the most dominant pitchers in the league today.

One of the things that sets Cole’s fastball apart is its raw velocity. According to Statcast, Cole has thrown the fastest pitch in the majors since it began tracking data in 2008, with a sinker that clocked in at 102.9 miles per hour in 2020.

However, while speed is certainly important when it comes to throwing a fastball, it is not the only factor that matters. Control is also critical, and in this regard, Cole is an expert.

Despite his high velocity, he is able to command his fastball with precision, hitting the corners of the strike zone and keeping batters guessing as to whether he will throw a fastball, slider, or changeup. Of course, no pitcher can rely on a single pitch alone, and Cole is no exception.

However, his fastball is undoubtedly his go-to pitch, with an average velocity of 97.5 miles per hour in 2020. Whether he is using it to set up his other pitches or to go right at batters, Cole’s fastball is a weapon that few batters can handle.

While velocity and control are both important when it comes to throwing a fastball, there are other factors that also come into play. For one, the grip that a pitcher uses can have a significant impact on the pitch’s movement and effectiveness.

In Cole’s case, he generally uses a four-seam grip, which allows him to throw the ball with maximum velocity and minimal spin. However, this grip can also make the fastball easier for batters to track, which is why Cole will often use a two-seam fastball as well.

This pitch has less velocity than his four-seam fastball but has more movement, making it difficult for batters to make solid contact. Ultimately, the effectiveness of Cole’s fastball comes down to a combination of factors, including his velocity, control, and grip.

However, it is also important to note that Cole’s success is not solely due to his fastball. His ability to mix up his pitches and keep batters off-balance has made him one of the most successful pitchers in the league today, and his fastball is just one of the many tools in his arsenal.

Jacob deGrom’s Fastball

While

Gerrit Cole’s fastball is known for its velocity,

Jacob deGrom’s pitch is equally impressive for its movement and setup potential. The New York Mets ace has long relied on his fastball as a key part of his pitching strategy, using it to set up his devastating slider and changeup.

One of the things that makes deGrom’s fastball so effective is its movement. While he does not throw the ball quite as hard as Cole, deGrom has consistently ranked near the top of the league in terms of fastball movement and has been known to use the pitch to generate swings and misses.

However, what really sets deGrom’s fastball apart is its role as a setup pitch. Unlike some pitchers who use their fastball as their primary weapon, deGrom will often turn to it in the early stages of an at-bat, using it to establish the strike zone and get ahead of batters.

Once the count is in his favor, deGrom can then use his slider or changeup to fool batters and generate outs. However, it is usually his fastball that sets the tone for each at-bat, and it is a testament to his skill as a pitcher that he has been able to use it so effectively.

Of course, like any pitch, deGrom’s fastball is not foolproof, and he has struggled with his command at times in the past. However, his ability to mix up his pitches and keep batters guessing has made him one of the most successful pitchers in the league, and his fastball remains a key part of his arsenal.

When it comes to statistics, deGrom’s fastball ranks among the best in the league. In 2020, his average fastball velocity was 99.3 miles per hour, placing him second in the league behind only Cole.

Furthermore, his fastball generated a whiff rate of 34.1%, which means that batters swung and missed on over a third of the fastballs he threw. While deGrom’s fastball might not be the fastest in the game, its combination of movement, control, and setup potential has made it one of the deadliest pitches in all of baseball.

Whether he is using it to set up his slider or throwing it right at batters, deGrom’s fastball is a weapon that few batters can handle, and it is a key reason why he has become one of the best pitchers in the league.

Spencer Strider’s Fastball

Spencer Strider is one of the most exciting young pitching talents in Major League Baseball, and much of his potential is due to his impressive fastball. The right-hander, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2020, has a four-seam fastball that has already been clocked at over 97 miles per hour, making him a force to be reckoned with on the mound.

One of the most impressive things about Strider’s fastball is its movement. While it is certainly fast, it is also able to “hop” as it approaches the plate, making it difficult for batters to hit.

This movement is likely due to Strider’s high spin rate, which creates more lift on the ball and makes it harder to track. However, speed and movement are not the only things that make Strider’s fastball so effective.

He also has excellent control, consistently hitting the corners of the strike zone and making life difficult for batters. Furthermore, he has a good understanding of how to set up his other pitches using the fastball as a foundation, which has helped him to generate more strikeouts and groundouts.

While Strider is still in the early stages of his professional career, his fastball statistics offer plenty of promise. According to MLB Pipeline, he had a fastball velocity that averaged 95-97 miles per hour during his time in the minors, with occasional readings of over 99 miles per hour.

Furthermore, he had an impressive strikeout rate of 11.1 per 9 innings, which suggests that his fastball is already a formidable weapon.

Relief Pitchers’ Fastball

While starting pitchers often get the most attention when it comes to fastball velocity, relief pitchers also play an important role in the game. These pitchers are often tasked with entering the game in high-pressure situations and throwing hard and fast to close out innings and secure wins.

In this regard, the fastball can be an especially useful tool for relief pitchers, as it can help them to generate quick outs and keep their inning workload manageable. When a relief pitcher enters the game with runners on base or in a high-pressure situation, being able to throw a reliable fastball can help them to get out of a jam.

One relief pitcher who is known for his fastball velocity is Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets. Diaz has consistently been among the league leaders in fastball velocity since he entered the majors in 2016, with an average fastball speed of 98.4 miles per hour in 2020.

Furthermore, his fastball generates a high number of swings and misses, with a whiff rate of 35.1%. Another relief pitcher with impressive fastball velocity is Emmanuel Clase of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Clase, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers in 2019, has a fastball that can top out at over 100 miles per hour, making him one of the fastest pitchers in the league. Furthermore, his fastball generates plenty of movement, helping him to keep batters off-balance and generate outs.

Finally, Ryan Helsley of the St. Louis Cardinals is another relief pitcher known for his fastball velocity. Helsley’s fastball consistently sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, and he is able to throw the pitch with excellent control, making it difficult for batters to hit.

While relief pitchers may not throw as many innings as their starting counterparts, their fastball velocity and reliability are still important parts of the game. Whether it’s helping to close out an inning or secure a win, a strong fastball can be the key to success for a relief pitcher.

In conclusion, the fastball remains one of the most important pitches in Major League Baseball. From the raw velocity of

Gerrit Cole’s fastball to the movement and setup potential of

Jacob deGrom’s, this pitch is a key part of every successful pitcher’s arsenal.

Young pitchers like

Spencer Strider are also showing promise with their impressive fastballs, while relief pitchers like Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase, and Ryan Helsley are proving that the fastball is just as important in the late innings as it is in the early ones. Overall, the importance of the fastball cannot be overstated, making it essential for players at all levels to master this fundamental pitch.

FAQs:

Q: Why is the fastball such an important pitch in baseball? A: The fastball is often the first pitch that young pitchers learn and provides a foundation for more complex pitches.

It is also an important part of any successful pitcher’s arsenal, as its speed and movement can be difficult for batters to handle. Q: What makes a fastball effective?

A: A combination of velocity, movement, and control are essential for a pitcher’s fastball to be effective. In addition, using the fastball as a setup pitch can help to keep batters off-balance and generate more outs.

Q: Who are some of the best fastball-throwers in MLB? A:

Gerrit Cole,

Jacob deGrom,

Spencer Strider, Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase, and Ryan Helsley are just a few of the pitchers known for their impressive fastball velocity and control.

Q: How important are relief pitchers’ fastballs? A: Relief pitchers often rely on their fastball to secure quick outs and close out innings.

Being able to throw a reliable fastball in high-pressure situations can be the key to success for these players.

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