What Is The Hardest Pitch For A Pitcher To Throw Consistently?
One of the most exciting parts of baseball is watching the various forms and types of balls thrown by pitchers. The iconic four-seam fastball, the graceful slider, and the mesmerizing curveball. With all the types of pitches available in a pitcher’s repertoire, it begs the question: what is the hardest pitch for a pitcher to throw consistently? Keep reading to find out!
What Is the Hardest Pitch to Throw Consistently?
The most difficult ball to throw consistently can be narrowed down to three contenders: the knuckleball, the forkball, and the screwball. All of these pitches are notorious for being difficult to master, hard to hit, and, if thrown incorrectly, being unduly stressful and risky to a pitcher.
The knuckleball is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, and is one of the most difficult pitches for pitchers to throw consistently throughout a game. The general trajectory of a knuckleball is slow in comparison to most pitches thrown in a baseball game, but it has a wild and seemingly physics-defying movement which makes it very difficult for batters to hit.
The reason the pitch is so hard to throw consistently is due to the unpredictable nature and unorthodox grip required to throw this type of pitch. Most pitchers who employ the knuckleball use this pitch almost exclusively and hone it to lethal perfection. One major upside to being a knuckleball pitcher is that it allows players who are relatively old to the game of baseball to continue playing in the majors well into their 40s. Only a few dozen pitchers are known to use the knuckleball at any given time, with the only major leaguer currently employing it being the Orioles’ Mickey Jannis.
The forkball is another incredibly uncommon pitch in baseball that is difficult for pitchers to employ on a regular basis. The throwing of a forkball involves an unorthodox grip of the baseball, which sees the ball jammed between the index and middle finger of the pitcher, and the release of this throw is followed by an intense snapping motion of the pitcher's forearm. This obscure motion and grip cause the baseball to veer very sharply downward as it reaches the plate, and it is difficult for a batter to accurately place the barrel of the bat onto the ball as it crosses into the strike zone.
The forkball is known to be very taxing on the arm of an MLB pitcher, and the unorthodox way of gripping the ball is a major reason why it is not used consistently by pitchers on the mound. Mets’ pitcher Kodai Senga is known for his prolific use of the forkball, and has a pitch dubbed “the Ghost Fork,” which is incredibly effective in games.
The screwball is a third incredibly taxing and effective pitch that is rarely relied on by pitchers in the MLB. The screwball is defined as a type of breaking ball that involves the ball veering the opposite way that most breaking balls skew. A typical curveball will see the ball curve outwards away from a batter. In stark contrast, the screwball breaks toward the batter. This is done through the pitcher snapping their wrist so that the palm gripping the ball faces away from the pitcher's mitt, which is what causes the wild break.
The motion of a screwball can be jarring, and is physically taxing for a pitcher to employ. However, unlike the two pitches above, it is not as dangerous to throw, and though the motion is unnatural, there are no medical studies supporting the thought that the screwball is particularly dangerous to pitchers. However, despite this, the screwball is one of the most difficult pitches for a pitcher to serve on a regular basis.
Which MLB pitchers throw a knuckleball?
There have been a number of notable knuckleball pitchers over the years in the MLB. The first is Eddie Cicotte, who is said to be the creator of the knuckleball. Other pitchers who have used or perfected the knuckleball include R.A. Dickey, Phil Niekro, Jesse Haines, Ted Lyons, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jared Fernández, Eddie Gamboa, and Mickey Jannis.
Which MLB pitchers throw a forkball?
There have been many MLB pitchers who have used forkballs in their careers. Some of these pitchers include Tom Henke, Hideo Nomo, José Arredondo, Justin Speier, José Contreras, Robert Coello, Edwar Ramírez, and Kodai Senga.
Which MLB pitchers throw a screwball?
A large number of pitchers have thrown screwballs in the history of the MLB. A few of the more notable screwball pitchers include Luis Arroyo, Bobby Castillo, Jim Brewer, Clark Griffith, Fernando Valenzuela, Pedro Martínez, Christy Mathewson, and Hector Santiago.