Let's just take the player's word for it

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Wellemeyer loses about 5 mph on fastball
is the headline to article penned by Joe Strauss in today’s St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. The headline is culled entirely from the following quote
by Wellemeyer:

“Last year I was throwing 94-96 (mph), this year I’m topping out at
90-91,” he said. “I don’t know what it is but there’s definitely a
difference. It makes things more of a challenge, that’s for sure.”

With maybe five minutes of extra work, Strauss could have done
something to back or contradict Wellemeyer’s claim, but there’s
nothing. He does, at least, go to pitching coach Dave Duncan for an
additional comment, but whatever he got there wasn’t quote-worthy.

According to the article:

Pitching coach Dave Duncan suggests Wellemeyer is trying to be too
precise with his pitches, an observation Wellemeyer doesn’t dispute.
But Wellemeyer says the reason is his diminished velocity, which makes
his mistake pitches more vulnerable.

So, let’s go to the numbers. According to Baseball Info Solutions numbers presented at Fangraphs.com, Wellemeyer’s average fastball has slipped a bit, dropping from 92.3 mph to 91.5. PitchFx data had him at 92.2 in 2007, 92.7 last year and 91.4 this season.

Obviously, that’s not five mph. Five mph is huge. If his fastball was
down that much, he would have been demoted to the bullpen or place on
the disabled list a month ago.

Instead, Wellemeyer’s fastball is down about one mph, though not entirely consistently. As this chart shows, he’s been hanging around in the 92.0-92.5 range at times and dropping off to 90.5-91.0 in the others.

The drop likely is a problem. However, the bigger issue is that he’s
thinking about that drop. Duncan would surely prefer that he forget
about the radar gun readings and just go out and pitch. If Wellemeyer
can’t do that, he likely will find himself bounced from the rotation
soon.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).