There have been plenty of pitchers who have dominated hitters throughout the history of baseball.
Many of the game's greats, such as Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn and of course Cy Young, mastered several pitches during their careers that helped them pitch their way to long, successful careers that eventually led to induction into the Hall of Fame.
Other pitchers, such as Nolan Ryan, Mariano Rivera and Walter Johnson, relied largely on a singular dominant pitch to intimidate and dominate their opposition.
There are a few exceptions, as always seems to be the case, in which a pitcher wound up mastering a second pitch nearly as lethal as his first.
Here are some of the game's all-time greats and a few of today's stars who knew how to hurl the ball past their opponents.
Before his career got derailed by drug addiction, Dwight Gooden had one of the most dominant fastballs in the game.
He finished his career with 2,293 strikeouts and a 3.51 ERA and held batters to a .244 average.
His career strikeout per nine inning (K/9) ratio was 7.4, although it was dragged down by his final few seasons. He posted a K/9 ratio of over 8.0 four times.
Dan Haren has used his cutter as a very effective pitch during his nine-year career so far.
He has 105 wins and a .561 winning percentage to boast and has already struck out 1,420 batters in his career.
At just 30 years old, Haren has already been named an All-Star three times.
Closers need to have good stuff, and Jonathan Papelbon has been one of the best since coming up in 2005 for the Boston Red Sox.
Papelbon has used his fastball as his primary weapon to notch the 217 saves he already has under his belt.
He's a four-time All-Star and is just 30 years old.
Making Papelbon's fastball even more deadly is the effectiveness of his top secondary pitch, his split-finger fastball.
It's bad enough to have to stand in against dominating heat, but when that heat drops off the table and dives into the dirt, it can be downright unhittable at times.
Papelbon has held batters to a .203 average and boasts a 2.29 career ERA.
I just got done telling you that closers have good fastballs.
Heath Bell is no exception, only his fastball is one of the top pitches currently in the game.
Bell has used his fastball to help post a 9.2 K/9 ratio for his career, or better than a strikeout for every inning he pitches.
While posting a 3.08 ERA for his career, Bell has held opposing batters to a .235 batting average.
Prior to injuries setting him back the past few seasons, Jake Peavy was one of the league's most dominating pitchers.
He used his curveball to keep batters off balance and rack up an impressive strikeout total through his first eight seasons.
Peavy had a K/9 ratio above 9.4 in five of his first eight seasons and never below 7.2 during that same stretch.
He has won a Cy Young Award and has 1,545 K's for his career to this point.
Josh Beckett's most dominating pitch, and one of the best in the game today, is his curveball.
Despite being better known for his fastball, Beckett's curveball is responsible for many of his 1,601 career strikeouts.
He has a 8.5 K/9 ratio, good for just under a strikeout per inning during his career.
At just 31 years old, Beckett has some good years left to continue building a case for Cooperstown.
Fausto Carmona does not have the most impressive career numbers so far, but he owns one of the most devastating sinkers batters have ever had to face.
Carmona throws his sinker to force batters to chase, leading to many of his 552 strikeouts over the past six seasons.
John Smoltz is likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, having amassed 213 career wins and 154 saves.
Smoltz had a very good fastball during his career, but his slider was arguably his best pitch (one of the best sliders in major-league history).
That slider is responsible for many of Smoltz's career 3,084 strikeouts, as he would use the pitch to force batters to chase it out of the strike zone.
Welcome back to the big leagues, kid. Now let's see some more of that fastball that was so electric it caused you to be one of the most hyped rookies of the past decade.
Stephen Strasburg actually does have one of the best fastballs in the league right now. He throws as hard as anyone else in the league, and the pitch has good movement, leading to his 12.2 K/9 rate last season prior to season-ending Tommy John surgery.
He's back now, and time will tell if that fastball remains one of the most dominating pitches in baseball history or not.
Hopefully Brandon Webb still has some major-league pitches left in that right arm of his.
Prior to injuries that have cost him the past two seasons, Webb was one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. He won the 2006 Cy Young Award and finished second the following two seasons.
His go-to pitch was the sinker. He would force batters to swing and chase the pitch into the dirt, thinking they were seeing his fastball.
The pitch literally just seemed to disappear as the batter swung, leading to his 1,065 career strikeouts.
Johan Santana is another modern-day ace who had one of the most dominant pitches in baseball history while he was still healthy.
Santana has an excellent fastball, but his changeup was the pitch that would cause batters the most trouble.
The changeup had enough speed differential and movement to make batters look silly against him.
Santana won two Cy Young Awards and recorded 1,877 strikeouts in his first 11 seasons in the majors. At just 31 years old, he still has a few seasons left to prove he can be one of the game's all-time greats.
Although he missed all of this season due to injuries, Adam Wainwright's curveball proved one of the best in the game over the past two seasons, when he finished second and third in Cy Young voting.
Wainwright can buckle batters' knees with the best of them with his curveball, which is made better by setting it up with his fastball.
He has a 7.5 K/9 ratio for his career and 724 strikeouts over his first six full seasons.
Roy Halladay is one of a few elite modern-day pitchers to boast more than one dominant pitch that warrants inclusion amongst the best of all time.
Halladay's knuckle-curve is one of the main reasons for his success during his 14-year career.
Halladay has 185 wins so far and 1,909 strikeouts.
Adding to Halladay's effectiveness is his cutter.
His cutter not only has aided his career strikeout and win totals, but it also helped him throw a perfect game in 2010 and only the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history.
Tim Lincecum is another current ace that has some of the best "stuff" of all time.
He's known for being able to throw the ball 97 MPH with such a small frame, but his off-speed pitches are what have made him truly dominant through his career.
His 12-6 curveball keeps hitters off balance and has made them look downright foolish at times.
Lincecum has 68 wins in his first five seasons (.636 winning percentage) and 1,107 strikeouts. He has led the league in K's three straight seasons and has a 10.0 K/9 ratio for his career.
Just in case one dominant off-speed pitch wasn't enough, "Timmy" adds in one of the game's best changeups of all time.
It's no wonder this 27-year-old is already a two-time Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star.
Justin Verlander has one of the best fastballs in the game today.
He's on his way to several MVP and Cy Young votes this season with his impressive stats, and he placed himself among some of the game's elite by tossing his second no-hitter back in May.
He routinely pumps the ball to the plate at speeds approaching or exceeding 100 MPH, and as a result he has collected 1,189 strikeouts during his seven big-league seasons.
His 104 wins during that same time frame, good for a .646 winning percentage, further exemplify his dominance.
Phil Niekro was the master of throwing the knuckleball during his 24-year major-league career.
Niekro's knuckler had very little rotation at all when thrown and would often change direction with no notice, frustrating batters who could not hit the pitch.
He would pitch until he was 48 years old and win 318 games while striking out 3,342 batters.
Gaylord Perry was the master of throwing the (now illegal) spitball.
The pitch, just as it sounds, was made effective by altering the ball with spit (saliva) or mucus to affect how the air interacted with the ball as it headed to the plate.
Perry used this pitch to win 314 games and strike out 3,534 batters during his Hall of Fame career.
During his career, Bob Feller mastered the curveball.
It helped him win 266 games and strike out 2,581 batters during his 18 major-league seasons.
Anyone who has ever played the game can tell you that recognizing and making the adjustment to hit a good curveball is a tough thing to accomplish.
Feller was one of the absolute best at fooling batters with his curve.
Rip Sewell was hardly a strikeout pitcher during his 13-year career in the majors. He only averaged more than three strikeouts per nine innings four times in his career.
He had a unique pitch, though, that he only allowed a single homer on in his entire career.
The eephus pitch features a high, lob-like arc to it and typically comes in at no more than 50-60 MPH.
Sewell would throw his pitch 25 feet in the air before it would come down back across the plate for a strike or get hit into an out.
The only HR he ever allowed on the pitch was to Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game.
There are many people that will disagree with this pick based on his year prior to season-ending surgery, but Daisuke Matsuzaka had one of the most confusing pitches when he appeared in the World Baseball Classic and then entered Major League Baseball.
His gyroball, which appeared to have a different axis of rotation, was responsible for his strikeout ratio of over 8.0 K/9 in each of his first three seasons and 7.8 K/9 last season.
Greg Maddux pitched his way to a 355-227 record with a career 3.16 ERA.
Despite not being a very hard thrower, Maddux recorded 3,371 strikeouts, as he made his throws with pinpoint accuracy on most nights (his career SO/BB ratio is 3.37).
Maddux's most dominant pitch is a pitch made famous in the movie Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck.
Maddux learned the shuuto pitch, originally mastered by Japanese pitchers. The shuuto starts out like a fastball before losing speed and rolling towards the batter.
He liked to throw his shuuto pitch on the outside edge of the plate against lefty batters.
Whitey Ford used to use the diamond in his wedding ring to alter the ball and scuff it up.
The scuff would cause the ball to have different movement as it traveled through the air and towards the batter.
When Ford was warned to stop altering the balls, his catcher Elston Howard would take up the task for him, using a buckle in his shin guards to do the deed.
The result of the altered balls was some deceiving movement that aided Ford in his 236 wins and 1,956 strikeouts.
Rube Waddell was one of the hardest throwers of the early 1900s.
Although we have no way of knowing exactly how hard he threw compared to today's fireballers, Waddell did give us some stats to offer comparison.
He won 193 games while leading the league in strikeouts six straight seasons.
He finished with 2,316 career strikeouts.
His fastball is still considered one of the best and most effective in MLB history.
Bert Blyleven's curveball was certainly a contributing factor to a career that earned him a place in Cooperstown.
Blyleven used his curve to help him win 287 games and strike out 3,701 batters over 22 seasons in the majors.
He finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting four times (never worse than seventh).
Rich "Goose" Gossage earned his nickname for putting "goose eggs" on the scoreboard regularly.
The reliever had one of the best fastballs for relief pitchers during the '70s and '80s.
He won 124 games, saved 310 games and struck out 1,502 batters during a 22-year career.
Aside from having one of the most intimidating glares in baseball history, Dave Stewart also had one of the most devastating forkballs in baseball.
After coming to the Oakland A's in 1986, Stewart would use the forkball to go on to win 20 games or more in each of the next four seasons, as he established himself as one of baseball's most dominant pitchers.
He would finish his career with 168 wins and 1,741 strikeouts, but for those four seasons, there was not a pitcher in the game more dominant than Dave Stewart.
Let's go with back-to-back forkball pitchers here.
Roy Face perhaps had one of the best, if not the best, forkballs in baseball history.
The reliever finished his career with 193 saves and 104 wins. He struck out 877 batters during his 16-year major-league career.
If you're looking for a good baseball read, check out Gary Moore's Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, World War II, and the Long Journey Home. Roy Face just happens to be mentioned at one point in this excellent book.
Satchel Paige had a unique delivery for one of his pitches, perhaps the pitch that he was most famous for throwing.
The "hesitation pitch" was a quirk in his delivery where he would intentionally pause after his left foot hit the ground before releasing the ball.
The deception worked well, as Paige held batters to a .241 batting average (only counting his major-league stats).
Paige did not make his major-league debut until he was 41 years old. He last appeared in the majors at age 59, making a single start for the Kansas City Athletics in which he pitched three innings and struck out a batter without giving up a run.
Paige was the star of the Negro Leagues prior to being invited to join the major leagues in 1948.
Joe DiMaggio once called him "the best I've ever faced, and the fastest."
Bruce Sutter is one of the best relief pitchers in baseball history, saving 300 games during his career.
He struck out 861 batters while holding runners to a .231 batting average.
He has personally credited the split-finger fastball, a very tough pitch to hit as it dives away from the batter as it approaches the plate, as his best pitch.
Ed Walsh's split-finger pitch is still considered one of the best of all time, even if we don't have an accurate measure of how it stacks up to those of current pitchers.
Walsh racked up 195 wins during his career, including 40 wins in 1908 alone.
He struck out 1,736 batters during his 14-year career.
Tom Seaver had one of the best sliders of all time.
His slider looked and even sounded exactly like a fastball, but then it would suddenly dart down and to the right.
Seaver used this nasty pitch to help him win 311 games and strike out 3,640 batters during his 20-season Hall of Fame career.
We now know that perhaps some of those fastballs Roger Clemens was throwing towards the end of his career were chemically enhanced. That doesn't change the fact that Clemens had one of the best and most effective fastballs in major-league history, though.
Clemens used his fastball to lead the league in strikeouts five times, win 354 games, capture seven ERA crowns and fan a total of 4,672 batters.
He won seven Cy Young Awards during his career.
Steve Carlton is another pitcher who mastered the slider and used it to force batters to chase the pitch out of the strike zone.
Carlton won 329 games during his career, striking out 4,136 batters along the way.
He posted a 3.22 ERA over his 24-year major-league career.
I guess it's becoming more common these days, but small guys aren't supposed to throw that hard, right?
Pedro Martinez's fastball, which was in fact complemented by a dominant off-speed pitch as well, just made batters look pathetic as they attempted to swing against him.
Martinez would use his fastball as his primary weapon as he accumulated 219 wins (to just 100 losses) and 3,154 strikeouts during his career.
He also won three Cy Young Awards.
Pedro Martinez had a dominating fastball, but his changeup was the pitch he would throw to embarrass hitters.
His pinpoint control and movement with his changeup helped him lead the league in ERA five times and strikeouts three times.
Early in his career, before arm injuries forced him to deviate to other pitches, Lefty Grove's fastball helped him lead the league in strikeouts seven straight seasons.
Grove also led the league in ERA nine times, still an American League best.
He finished his career with exactly 300 wins and had 2,266 strikeouts.
Randy Johnson is best known for his dominating fastball, a pitch that he used to lead the league in strikeouts nine times during his 22 major-league seasons.
Although it was not his only dominating pitch, his "heater" was arguably the main reason the big left-hander made it to the majors and stuck around long enough to earn 303 wins and 4,875 strikeouts.
Randy Johnson always had the dominating "heater" in his repertoire of pitches.
When he finally mastered the slider, he became the five-time Cy Young Award winner that is a sure bet for first-ballot induction into the Hall of Fame.
The only pitch better than Sandy Koufax's fastball during the 1960s was his deceptive curveball.
Koufax's curveball had a break that went straight down, giving it more of a motion of a sinker.
During his 12-year career he won 165 games and led the league in strikeouts four times for a career total of 2,396 K's.
His curve certainly helped him earn his three Cy Young Awards, MVP award and Hall of Fame induction.
Hoyt Wilhelm pitched in the majors from when he was 28 years old until he was 48.
During the course of his 21-year career he won 143 games and saved 227. He also struck out 1,610 batters while walking just 778 through 2,254.1 innings pitched.
His primary pitch for the duration of his career was a knuckleball; it's surprising he kept his walk total so low.
Carl Hubbell reportedly threw his screwball so often that his left palm eventually faced outward.
His screwball helped him lead the league in wins three times and strikeouts once.
He finished his career with 253 wins and 1,677 K's along his way to induction into the Hall of Fame.
Christy Mathewson became most well known early on his career for his "fadeaway" pitch.
We now call this pitch the "screwball," and it was Mathewson's go-to pitch during his Hall of Fame career.
The screwball, which moved from left to right when the righty threw it, helped him catch many of the 2,507 batters he struck out off guard.
Mathewson finished his career with 373 wins.
Bob Feller quickly earned comparisons to Walter Johnson early in his career.
His fastball was another pitch that helped him lead the league in strikeouts seven times during his 18-year career.
Of course, we already covered his devastating curveball that he also used to dominate batters while on the mound.
Walter Johnson earned the nickname "The Big Train" during his career because his fastball was rumored to be thrown so hard.
Johnson actually relied on his fastball nearly exclusively until developing a curveball later in his career.
His fastball helped lead him to 417 career wins and 3,509 strikeouts. He led the league in strikeouts 12 times and had a lifetime ERA of just 2.17.
Trevor Hoffman used the changeup as his pitch of choice to strike out many of the 1,133 batters he fanned during his 18-year career.
Hoffman gripped the ball with his palm, rather than using his fingers, to create the difference in speed to trick batters into swinging early.
He finished his career with a major-league-leading 601 saves to become the greatest closer to date.
Nolan Ryan's fastball may very well be the greatest pitch ever thrown by any pitcher, historic or modern-day.
He threw his fastball upwards of 100 MPH well into his 40s and used it to throw a record seven no-hitters amongst his 324 wins.
Ryan is also the all-time strikeout king with 5,714 K's during his career.
Batters know it is coming, but they still can't hit Mariano Rivera's cutter.
Rivera will very soon be the all-time save leader, overtaking Trevor Hoffman's 601 career-best mark likely this season.
His career ERA is an impressively low 2.23, and he has punched out 1,103 batters during his career.
As I already said, batters know the cutter is coming, but they simply can't hit one of baseball's all-time nastiest pitches.