Clockwise, from top left: Mets pitchers Luis Severino, Phil Bickford,...

Clockwise, from top left: Mets pitchers Luis Severino, Phil Bickford, Shintaro Fujinami and Adam Ottavino. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Everybody knows about Kodai Senga’s forkball and Edwin Diaz’s slider (and fastball).

But what about all the other pitches thrown by all the other pitchers at Mets spring training?

To find out which are the best of the best, Newsday polled two dozen Mets hitters, experts on the subject, about the nastiest pitches in camp. In this world, “nasty’’ is a major compliment that means the pitch is hard to hit because of how fast it is, how it moves and other characteristics.

Twenty-nine pitches from 20 pitchers earned votes overall — evidence, perhaps, that the Mets have a lot to like on their staff. Here are the four that got mentioned most.


Luis Severino’s SLIDER

OK, so Severino actually has two versions of this pitch — three if you count his slider-ish cutter, as Brandon Nimmo did.

The kind of slider Severino likes more lately is the one that is harder and moves down. The slower, horizontal, sweepy one is a work in progress, he said.

“He can manipulate that pitch,” Pete Alonso said. “He’s got a really good feel for it.”

Rylan Bannon, recalling with a laugh a painful May 2022 moment: “He’s pretty disgusting. He threw me the nastiest slider I’ve ever seen.”

That year, when Severino was effective when healthy, opposing batters hit .169 with a .313 slugging percentage in at-bats that ended with the slider. After a 2023 campaign in which nothing went well for him, he is experimenting with it.

“I’m throwing it harder and slower,” he said. “I’m trying to look at different grips, to get different shapes and different velocities.”


Phil Bickford’s FASTBALL

He isn’t a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but his fastball has impressed teammates for years.

It averaged 93.7 mph in 2023 — nothing special by modern baseball standards. Yet it is harder to hit than a mere velocity reading would suggest.

“You think it’s right down the middle,” Omar Narvaez said. “It’s not. It’s never in the middle.”

Jose Iglesias, who noted that he has a tougher time against Bickford than Diaz, said: “His fastball is pretty special. There’s something about it.”

Bickford’s fastball is tricky because it comes from a “weird angle,” Zack Short said. The way he throws it yields the appearance of it “riding” up on the hitter, or looking as if it drops less than expected, Nimmo explained.

“He has a good, explosive fastball,” Nimmo said. “He’s what, before analytics, they would’ve called ‘the invisible fastball.’ You didn’t know why, but you were underneath it, you couldn’t hit it. And he has that. It shoots from a low arm slot and has good carry with it. That’s why his fastball is good. He can throw it anywhere from 90 to 94 and it’s still a good fastball.”

That hasn’t translated into consistent results yet, as shown by his 4.62 ERA with the Mets last year and 4.43 career mark in four seasons. But it is a reason why the Mets remain curious, hoping they can help him figure it out.

Similarly, several Mets mentioned Sean Reid-Foley’s four-seamer. He, too, is trying to make the team — he and Bickford are competing with others for maybe just one bullpen spot — and the fastball gives him a shot.

“It’s a fastball with attitude,” Alonso said.


Adam  Ottavino’s SLIDER

Honed in recent offseasons at his personal pitching lab in a Harlem storefront, Ottavino’s slider has been his signature pitch since he established himself as a major-leaguer in 2012.

These days, it gets classified as a so-called sweeper or sweeping slider because of the way it moves across (and then out of) the strike zone. The more movement, the better.

Ben Gamel called it “pretty incredible.”

“I know where it’s supposed to start,” said Luke Voit, who has faced Ottavino as a teammate during spring training scrimmages and as an opponent in real games. “And it just keeps going.”


Shintaro  Fujinami’s  SPLITTER

In a testament to what the Mets believe is a very high ceiling for Fujinami, teammates mentioned his splitter often — but his triple-digit fastball and his slider got votes, too.

His splitter stands out because of its strong vertical movement, yes, but also because he threw it at 93 mph on average as a rookie last year. That is fastball speed for some guys.

“It’s like Senga,” Narvaez said, “and he throws 100.”

Or as Mark Vientos put it: “I’m pretty sure that’s [expletive] not fun to face.”

Among those also earning mention: Severino’s changeup to righthanders and sinker, Nate Lavender’s fastball, Tylor Megill’s splitter, Grant Hartwig’s slider and sinker, Jose Butto’s changeup, Yacksel Rios’ splitter, Jorge Lopez’s sinker and Christian Scott’s split-changeup.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months