HomeBasketballPitching Ninja's filthiest pitches: Framber Valdez's curveball dazzles throughout LCS

Pitching Ninja’s filthiest pitches: Framber Valdez’s curveball dazzles throughout LCS


By Rob Friedman, aka “Pitching Ninja”
FOX Sports activities MLB Analyst

We’re coming into the ultimate stretch of the 2022 MLB marketing campaign — the World Sequence begins Friday on FOX! Because the Padres-Phillies and Yankees-Astros battled it out, we have been handled to an impressive show of dominant pitching in each the ALCS and NLCS. 

Listed here are my filthiest pitches of the League Championship Sequence:

Framber’s hammers 

Framber Valdez had an impressive common season, setting a serious league single-season document with 25 consecutive high quality begins. Valdez continued to set information within the postseason, breaking the MLB document for probably the most curveball whiffs in a recreation with 16 in Recreation 2 of the ALCS. Throughout the common season, Valdez had the fourth-best curveball in baseball by way of run worth and had a whiff price of 45.5% on that pitch.  So, it’s no shock he was capable of dominate together with his curve within the postseason. 

Listed here are all these curveball whiffs from Recreation 2 towards the Yankees. A curveball tour de drive! 

Wheeler’s soiled curveball to Soto

Zack Wheeler has had an incredible postseason up to now with a 1.78 ERA whereas racking 25 strikeouts over his 4 outings. Wheeler’s fastball attracts a number of consideration, rightly so, as a consequence of its bat-singeing velocity (commonly within the higher 90s, even touching 100 mph), however his curveball has additionally been vicious this postseason. Right here’s a Wheeler curveball that bought a sword from Juan Soto, a tricky feat since Soto has among the finest eyes in baseball. 

This overlay illustrates why Soto took such a foul swing at this pitch. The curveball is almost completely tunneled with Wheeler’s 97 mph fastball that was referred to as a strike. As a hitter, the curveball seems identical to that fastball, till it dives to the grime on the final second, so you find yourself swinging at a ball that just about hits you within the foot. 

Wheeler additionally dismantled Soto earlier within the sequence, getting him to take a document three untimely “stroll” struts to first base, putting Soto out after falling behind 3-0 within the depend. 

Wheeler’s dominant stuff helped carry the Phillies to their first World Sequence look since 2009.

Loáisiga’s mind-boggling 100 mph sinker

Jonathan Loáisiga’s 100 mph sinker ran an unimaginable 21 inches and dropped 20 inches. Simply an inconceivable pitch to hit and one of many key causes that Loáisiga will get a lot weak contact on his sinker.

Johnny Lasagna commonly serves up flaming cheese.

Darvish’s gradual curveball

Yu Darvish is the mad scientist of pitch grips. He has 12 pitches or in order that he commonly throws, whereas seemingly inventing pitches on the fly. I’m a sucker for beautiful gradual curveballs, and Yu threw this lovely 67 mph curve to get the strikeout of Bryce Harper.

Right here’s Darvish describing to me how he throws his gradual curveball. 

Darvish additionally had this filthy slider that broke 16 inches. This residence plate view actually exhibits simply how powerful hitters have it!

Verlander’s Unfair Fastball and Slider overlay

I really like doing overlays of pitches as a result of I feel it helps followers perceive how tough hitting actually is. As a substitute of yelling “why did he swing at that?” when a hitter chases a pitch out of the zone, an overlay may also help clarify precisely what a hitter was seeing. 

This overlay of Justin Verlander’s elevated fastball and nasty slider exhibits simply why a hitter would swing at a slider manner out of the zone. You possibly can see how properly Verlander tunnels that slider together with his 96 mph fastball, making these pitches just about indistinguishable to the hitter. You begin out swinging at what you thought was a fastball, however because it’s a slider, you find yourself swinging at air…whiiifffff.

Honorable Mentions

A number of years in the past, I nicknamed José Alvarado “El Diablo” as a result of his pitches regarded like they have been black magic. Now that he’s improved the command of his pitches, El Diablo has taken his recreation to the subsequent stage.  

Alvarado’s 94 mph cutter is pure sorcery. Throughout the common season, Alvarado had a 55.7% whiff price on his cutter, which was the very best whiff price of any cutter within the majors. It’s a completely unfair pitch, as you may see right here:

This overlay helps illustrate how inconceivable it’s to hit off Alvarado. Right here’s his 101 mph fastball overlaid together with his 93 mph cutter. Due to the acute velocity, you’ve a fraction of a second to distinguish these pitches and begin your swing. It is a recipe for a certain strikeout. 

Bryan Abreu completely destroyed Josh Donaldson on this elevated 99 mph rising fastball, getting a sword whereas additionally having Donaldson bend the knee earlier than its greatness.

Ryne Stanek struck out the aspect with dominant stuff, whereas additionally progressively growing his Ok celebrations. I really like when pitchers pitch with emotion!

Lastly, Josh Hader set a brand new postseason document with eight consecutive strikeouts. Right here’s Hader annihilating the aspect towards the Phillies. Merely overpowering stuff, topping it off with an absurd 93 mph changeup! 


Giancarlo Stanton famously broke the Astros scoreboard after operating down a ball within the outfield and pushing off towards it. I made a decision to have some enjoyable with it by taking that play and placing Stanton in a distinct state of affairs: a change from game-saving catches to Earth-saving interstellar energy.

Rob Friedman is an MLB pitching analyst for FOX Sports activities whose work has been featured on many Main League Baseball broadcasts. Observe him on Twitter @PitchingNinja.

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