The Toughest Pitches to Return In MLB History

The Toughest Pitches to Return In MLB History - partycasino

MOB pitching is something that’s constantly evolving. Whether it’s getting more speed, a harder curve or unexpected movement in the air, every pitcher works hard on their technique.

And it's fair to say that there are lots of different pitches which are tough to return, but there are some that really stand out from the crowd. It's not just about who can pitch the hardest; pitching is an art that requires far more finesse.

Here’s a look at some of the pitchers in MLB history who were known for having a particularly tough pitch to return.

Phil Niekro - Knuckleball

Every young pitcher dreams of perfecting a good knuckleball, but it's a pitch that's increasingly elusive. It takes a long time to master, but the effort is worth it as it's incredibly hard for batters to deal with its delivery.

The low spin causes an erratic motion which is difficult to hit and can be extremely frustrating to play against.

Phil Niekro, Hall of Famer, had arguably one of the best knuckleball careers of them all, having learnt the technique from his father at a young age. Playing until the age of 48, Niekro is still the only knuckleballer to have notched up more than 300 wins in his career.

Known as the hardest knuckleballer to play against, Niekro’s reputation speaks for itself.

Mariano Rivera - Cutter

A cutter, or a cut fastball, is another type of pitch that a pitcher can call upon. In between a four-seam fastball and a slider, the cutter breaks as it reaches the home plate, towards the glove side of the hitter.

If the rumours are true Mariano Rivera discovered his signature pitch by accident one day in 1997 while practising his fastball. Unable to control the movement, he eventually stopped trying to fight it and instead focused on developing what would become his cutter.

Rivera's cutter was impossible to play against, moving away so late and so sharply that hitters had virtually no time to move. His control over his cutter was so phenomenal; it didn't matter if the batter was a right or left-hander. The ball landed in exactly the right spot forcing a weak response.

Bruce Sutter - Splitter

The splitter with its distinctive two-finger grip is a well-known pitch used over the years. Carrying the velocity and speed of a fast ball but with an added late curve towards the grown, splitters have caused problems for many hitters.

Although Sutter wasn’t the first to play the splitter, he is credited for its wide use today. Without his contribution, many other pitchers wouldn’t have utilised the splitter to the same extent.

Sutter originally developed his splitter as a response to pinch-nerve surgery, which meant he needed to switch up his grip. A coach showed him the splitter, and a new cult hero was born.

You can find Sutter in the Hall of Fame, but it took him a while to be inducted. That’s because despite being a 6x All Star, World Series Champion, 5x saves leader and 4x reliever of the year, Sutter never really became one of the greatest names in MLB history. He was, however, known for his splitter and for inspiring the next generation of pitchers.