There seems to be at least one big moment in every game where a pitcher can use a strikeout to get their team out of a tough situation.
In these scenarios, there is usually one pitch that they will turn to once they get the opposing hitter to a two-strike count.
These go-to pitches normally get the job done, giving pitchers the strikeout that they need. Some of these pitches make hitters' knees buckle—and they have been doing so for years.
There might not be a pitch in baseball that is more feared than Mariano Rivera's cutter. It is his go-to out pitch.
Surprisingly, Rivera has only gotten swings and misses on his cutter 21 percent of the time, but it is a lethal strikeout pitch.
Knees buckle when opposing hitters recognize that a Clayton Kershaw curveball is coming at them. Hitters are confused and the pitch is called a strike more than 21 percent of the time.
When hitters do try to swing at a Kershaw curve, they do not have much success. Opposing hitters have missed more than a third of the time when Kershaw throws his filthy curve.
Aroldis Chapman can rear back and dial up the heat when he throws his fastball. It averages more than 98 miles per hour for his career.
However, when Chapman is looking to get a strikeout, he goes to his slider. The speed difference and the break on the pitch cause hitters to swing and miss almost 58 percent of the time.
Ricky Romero has a number of pitches he can go to for an out, and that is why he is one of the better pitchers in the major leagues.
One pitch is better than the other for Romero. The movement on his change up causes a lot of trouble for hitters.
When Cole Hamels is looking to get a strikeout in a big situation, he knows what pitch he is going to go to.
Hamels will use his fastball to set up his devastating change up. The pitch has a lot of movement, which is why he gets whiffs more than 44 percent of the time when hitters swing.
Since he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, things have begun to click for James McDonald, and he is living up to expectations.
McDonald has been able to use his slider as his go-to out pitch, and it has worked well. His slider has confused a number of hitters this year, and it is partially responsible for all of his success.
The Chicago Cubs have had a rough year so far in 2012, but they do have a few bright spots.
Jeff Samardzija has looked outstanding in the Cubs starting rotation. He has used his splitter as a strikeout pitch this year, and hitters miss over 41 percent of the time when they swing at it.
If Edinson Volquez gets two strikes on a hitter, then he should be expecting a change up. He throws it 40 percent of the time in a two-strike count.
The change up works very well, as hitters often swing and miss when he goes to it.
The transition to the starting rotation has not been a smooth one for Daniel Bard during the 2012 season.
Bard's strikeout rate has dropped precipitously since he moved to the rotation, but his slider still remains a solid strikeout pitch.
Ivan Nova generally relies on his fastball throughout the game, but once he gets into a two-strike count he throws his slider much more often.
There is good reason for this, as Nova generates the highest swing and miss rate with his slider.
CC Sabathia's slider has more movement and more rotation than any other pitch that he throws, which makes it hard for hitters to track.
This means that it is a great strikeout pitch. Sabathia gets hitters to miss about 41 percent of the time when they swing at a slider with two strikes. The pitch gets called for strike three another five percent of the time.
Part of the reason that Francisco Liriano's struggles are so frustrating is because he has some outstanding stuff.
Liriano's slider is very impressive when he gets to a two-strike count. He strikes out hitters with that pitch almost 29 percent of the time when he throws it.
Hitters seemingly have almost no chance if Jonny Venters decides to go to his slider in a two-strike count.
Almost 40 percent of the time hitters will swing at the pitch and come up with nothing but air. Another five percent of the time they just watch the pitch go by them for a strike.
Joel Hanrahan is another reliever who has a slider that leaves hitters looking lost.
His slider has been a piece of his arsenal that has helped him close out games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. When hitters swing at a slider thrown in a two-strike count, they miss it over 46 percent of the time.
Henry Rodriguez is one of the hardest throwers in the major league, and his fastball can reach 100 miles per hour.
It must throw hitters for a curve when Rodriguez throws his. His average curveball velocity is 14 miles per hour slower than his average fastball velocity.
Despite his recent struggles, Jordan Walden still has one of the better sliders in baseball, and he uses it as his strikeout pitch.
More than a quarter of the time that Walden chooses to go to his slider with two strikes a hitter will swing and miss.
The Toronto Blue Jays got a closer with a great slider when they acquired Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox.
Santos goes to his slider 55 percent of the time when there are two strikes, and with good reason. Hitters swing and miss about a third of the time when he throws it.
The two pitches that Aaron Crow relies on most often are his sinker and slider. When he has a hitter in a two-strike count, the slider is Crow's pitch of choice.
He chooses to throw the slider 55 percent of the time in that situation. Hitters whiff almost 29 percent of the time that he face the pitch with two strikes.
Many pitchers do not choose to use their fastball as a strikeout pitch. Instead, they use it to set up other pitches.
New York Yankees reliever David Robertson strikes hitters out with his fastball. He blows it by hitters more than 10 percent of the time and gets them to miss it another 12 percent of the time.
It has been reported that Yu Darvish throws seven different pitches, and this allows him to keep hitters off guard.
When Darvish gets two strikes on a hitter, his slider is an intimidating pitch to face. Hitters strike out over 40 percent of the time when facing the slider in that situation.
Shaun Marcum throws a number of different pitches, and he will go to any of them in almost every situation.
However, once Marcum gets two strikes on a hitter he turns to his change up more often. About 24 percent of the time Marcum records a strikeout with the pitch.
Brandon League has emerged as one of the best closers in the American League over the past few years.
In a two-strike count the splitter is League's go-to pitch. Over 31 percent of the time League gets a strikeout using his splitter in a two-strike count.
Ryan Madson may not be pitching this season, but when he returns to the mound next year he will still be able to strike out pitchers.
Hitting a Ryan Madson change up with two strikes is not easy. A third of the time the pitch will be missed by the hitter.
Tim Lincecum has not been pitching like a two-time Cy Young award winner this season, but Lincecum has still been able to strike hitters out at a high rate.
With two strikes on a hitter, Lincecum goes to his change up often. He also strikes out hitters with it. Almost 28 percent of the time that Lincecum throws a change up with two strikes he gets hitters to whiff on the pitch.
Kenley Jansen relies heavily on his fastball, as he throws it 91 percent of the time that he has two strikes on a hitter.
It is hard to argue with that choice, as Jansen is able to get swings and misses about 22 percent of the time and called third strikes about another seven percent of the time.
Nick Masset has three pitches that he goes to when there are two strikes in the count. He gets hitters to swing and miss more than 24 percent of the time with his splitter, his curve and his cutter.
When you combine his whiffs with his called strikes, Masset strikes out hitters more than 30 percent of the time with a two-strike curveball.
Javier Lopez may not rack up massive strikeout totals or even a high strikeout rate, but he has a very solid strikeout pitch.
Lopez is able to make hitters swing and miss on his slider about 20 percent of the time in a two-strike count. He only throws the pitch 14 percent of the time with two strikes, so he might want to go to it a bit more often.
Hitters who face Greg Holland's slider with two strikes don't have a great chance of getting out of the at-bat without a strikeout.
More than 37 percent of the time Holland is able to strike out hitters when he throws his slider.
Tyler Clippard has a very effective fastball, but he seems to dial things up once there are two strikes on a hitter.
His average fastball velocity increases by over half a mile per hour, and he is able to get hitters to swing and miss almost 24 percent of the time.
Stephen Strasburg is going to be on top of the MLB strikeout leaderboard for a long time thanks to his arsenal of pitches.
The best pitch that Strasburg can throw with two strikes is his change up. Hitters just can't figure it out, as they swing and miss about 40 percent of the time.
Craig Kimbrel is able to generate a lot of force and deliver blazing fastballs to the plate, but it is his curveball that deserves a lot of credit.
Knees buckle when Kimbrel throws a two-strike curve. If hitters do swing, they miss the pitch approximately 31 percent of the time.
There was a period of time when Francisco Rodriguez was one of the best closers in baseball. Now, he is one of the game's better setup men.
Rodriguez is able to change speeds very effectively, which is what makes his change up such a good strikeout pitch.
The Washington Nationals miss Drew Storen a lot because he is a shut down closer, and they should get him back at the All-Star break.
Storen relies on a wicked change up to get strikeouts. Hitters miss it over 17 percent of the time. It is more impressive that he throws it for a called third strike more than 11 percent of the time.
Dan Wheeler has struggled to start the 2012 season, but he is hoping to turn things around with the Cleveland Indians.
If he is going to do that, then he is going to need to rely on his curveball. That pitch gets him strikeouts about a quarter of the time that he throws it with two strikes.
A curveball is very effective as a strikeout pitch because hitters could swing and miss, and they often just watch it go by.
For Jeremy Affeldt, his curveball is the best pitch that he can throw with two strikes. It results in a strikeout more than a third of the time.
Joaquin Benoit throws a change up that devastates opposing hitters.
They have a hard time making contact with it, and they swing and miss more than 28 percent of the time that Benoit throws it with two strikes.
Brandon Morrow's strikeouts are down in 2012, but he has performed much better this season.
When Morrow is looking for a strikeout, his catcher will often call a slider. Morrow gets strike three over 25 percent of the time when he throws a slider.
Mat Latos can throw any one of his five pitches to strikeout hitters, but one is much more successful than the others.
When Latos really needs a strikeout, he should go to his slider. This results in strike three about 26 percent of the time.
When Matt Garza needs to get a strikeout, he goes to his slider to try to pick up the third strike.
More than 22 percent of the time Garza causes a hitter to swing and miss the pitch with two strikes. Another three percent of the time the hitter just watches the pitch go by for strike three.
It should become very clear that the slider is a very popular strikeout pitch around the major leagues.
Jhoulys Chacin is another pitcher who makes use of the slider as his strikeout pitch. He throws it in 36 percent of the two-strike counts he gets, getting strikeouts more than 31 percent of the time.
No discussion about the best strikeout pitches in baseball would be complete without a mention of Roy Halladay's change up.
Opposing hitters look dazed and confused whenever Halladay throws the pitch with two strikes. He strikes out hitters with it about a quarter of the time that he throws it.
Zack Greinke is able to get a tremendous amount of movement on his slider, which makes it hard for hitters to follow to the plate.
For this reason, hitters swing and miss at the pitch about a quarter of the time with two strikes. Greinke also gets a called strike three about three percent of the time.
A Tim Hudson slider is one of the hardest pitches to hit in all of baseball.
More than 30 percent of the time, hitters just swing and miss at it with two strikes. Hudson's slider also leaves hitters looking at strike three about five percent of the time.
Ervin Santana has been able to have a good amount of success in the major leagues in part due to his slider.
It has been a difficult pitch for opposing hitters to figure out. About 27 percent of the time hitters strike out when Santana throws the slider.
Jorge De La Rosa is working his way back to the major leagues following elbow surgery, and hitters have not missed facing him.
De La Rosa's splitter has led to a number of strikeouts over the years. Hitters swing and miss just under 27 percent of the time when they see the pitch thrown with two strikes.
Bud Norris is going to be a big piece of the Houston Astros' rebuilding process.
Norris' slider has been a big reason for his success in the major leagues. He strikes out hitters with it more than a quarter of the time.
Jaime Garcia has pitched very well over the past two years, and his slider is a large reason for his success.
Garcia throws his slider 40 percent of the time with two strikes. He gets hitters out with a third strike about 26 percent of the time with his slider.
Johan Santana has established a reputation for having one of the best change ups in baseball, and his injuries over the past few years have not changed that.
Even after 12 years in the majors, hitters still can't figure it out. Santana gets strikeouts over 26 percent of the time in two-strike counts when he throws his change up.
The Washington Nationals acquired Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics this winter, and so far the move has paid off big time.
Gonzalez has looked great for the Nationals this year. He has used his curveball as a lethal weapon with two strikes, and he has done a great job getting strikeouts with it.
Max Scherzer may rely on his fastball when he gets to a two-strike count, but it is not his best pitch in that situation.
The best pitch that Scherzer has when there are two strikes is his slider. It results in a strikeout about 20 percent of the time when he throws it.