The five best curves in the game today

  • Updated: July 22, 2011 - 1:55 AM

The five best curves in the game today

After Bert Blyleven retired, the curveball became less prominent for a while, but scouts have seen a recent resurgence. Who has the best curveball in the game today? Joe Christensen lists five that are mentioned most:

JUSTIN VERLANDER, TIGERS, RH

Batting average against his curve: .162

Hitters have to be ready for his 95-mph-plus fastball, and then he breaks off an 81-mph curve, with a hard 12-to-6 drop. A strong Cy Young candidate this season.

ROY HALLADAY, PHILLIES, RH

Batting average against his curve: .187

Everything he throws moves. His sinker and cutter are both about 92 mph, and then he drops that 12-to-6 curve at about 77 mph.

YOVANI GALLARDO, BREWERS, RH

Batting average against his curve: .200

He throws almost as many sliders as curveballs. When his curve is on, it's devastating, looping down toward the dirt at about 80 mph.

CLAYTON KERSHAW, DODGERS, LH

Batting average against his curve: .155

High overhand delivery reminds some of Sandy Koufax, as do his breaking balls -- a slider at about 83 mph and a curve at 74 mph.

GIO GONZALEZ, ATHLETICS, LH

Batting average against his curve: .156

Thirty percent of his pitches are curves, so hitters know it's coming but still have little chance, as the ball dives from belt-high to the dirt.

Note: Averages from Inside Edge

  • NICKNAMES FOR THE CURVEBALL

    "The Hook"

    "The Bender"

    "Uncle Charlie"

    "Deuce" -- catchers traditionally hold down two fingers to call for a curve

    "The Hammer"

    "Public Enemy No. 1" -- that's what Vin Scully called it

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