Pitching Ninja’s Filthiest Pitches: Castillo, Muñoz among wild-card highlights

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

The 2022 MLB Wild-Card Series featured some truly wild pitches — well, not “wild pitches,” technically, but you get it.

Here are my filthiest pitches from this weekend’s games.

Andrés Muñoz: 103 mph sorcery

Not only was this the fastest pitch in the postseason in the past five years, according to Codify Baseball, but also this fastball ran an amazing 18 inches! Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s breathless reaction says it all.

Here’s that 103 mph mutant pitch with a tail on it, which really highlights the absurd movement.

Luis Castillo: Wicked fastball movement

Luis Castillo threw 7⅓ scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, and after looking at the movement of his 99 mph and 100 mph sinkers and four-seam fastballs, you can see why. It’s a miracle anyone can ever put a bat on the ball against “La Piedra.”

This 99 mph sinker not only dropped like it was made of lead but also ran an incredible 21 inches. 

Vladdy was the victim of another amazing fastball here, as this 99 mph two-seamer totally ate him up. Absolutely unfair!

Finally, these 100 mph two-seam and four-seam fastballs show you just how impossible Castillo’s stuff can be. Things that move that fast shouldn’t move that much!

Jacob deGrom: Incinerating Juan Soto

Yes, the San Diego Padres won the series, but deGrom won this battle. Honestly, the at-bat should’ve ended after that first pitch, as Soto shuffled himself all the way to the ground. But Soto got back up, only to quickly be finished off by absolute flames. 

As the Targaryens would say: Dracarys!

Yu Darvish: Tantalizing 67 mph curveball

After all that heat, it’s time to slow it down a bit. Darvish threw the slowest strikeout pitch of the wild-card round with this gorgeous, slow curveball. 

Darvish is a master at changing speeds. You can see in this overlay how both the velocity difference and movement of his curveball keep hitters off-balance.

Triston McKenzie: Hammer curveball

Dr. Sticks recorded eight strikeouts while giving up only two hits in six scoreless innings. McKenzie’s success was largely due to his vicious curveball. Opponents hit .120 against the pitch in 2022, with an amazing 45% whiff rate. 

Check out the drop on this one.

McKenzie does a great job using elevated fastballs to make his curveball even more effective. Here’s an overlay of his fastball and curveball — you can see why this is a nightmare for hitters. The pitches start in the same plane, and then the curveball just disappears, leaving hitters swinging at air.

Joe Musgrove: Bonus

Musgrove was brilliant Sunday in eliminating the New York Mets. He became the first pitcher in postseason history to throw seven or more innings and give up fewer than two hits in an elimination game, per MLB.

Of course, the game was also memorable for the “foreign substance check” midgame, as the umpiring crew checked Musgrove’s ears at Mets manager Buck Showalter’s urging. 

The search turned up nothing — well, other than this:

OK, I made that up. 

I can’t wait for the next round of the playoffs and some more filthy pitches!

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

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