Stat of the Day – Fastball velocity against

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OK, so this is pretty obscure and the results are so bunched together that one can’t take a whole lot from the data, but I wanted to check something and I though it was pretty interesting to see this work out mostly the way one would expect.
Here is a list of which hitters have faced the hardest fastballs this year (taken from Fangraphs):
1. Alex Rodriguez – 92.0
2. Billy Butler – 91.9
2. Ryan Braun – 91.9
4. Albert Pujols – 91.8
4. Jack Cust – 91.8
4. David Ortiz – 91.8
7. Dustin Pedroia – 91.7
7. Jhonny Peralta – 91.7
7. Ryan Sweeney – 91.7
7. Jermaine Dye – 91.7
7. Jason Bay – 91.7
7. Mark DeRosa – 91.7
7. Torii Hunter – 91.7
7. Jason Kubel – 91.7
7. Kevin Youkilis – 91.7
7. Matt Holliday – 91.7
7. Mark Teahen – 91.7
That’s the top 17. The first three and 12 of the 17 are right-handed hitters. Which makes sense, since they’ll see more right-handed pitchers and right-handers throw harder than lefties. I was actually somewhat surprised to see five left-handed hitters on the list: Ortiz, Cust, Sweeney, Kubel and Teahen.
I’m guessing part of the reason for the presence of the lefties is the lack of soft-tossing specialists in the league right now. Mike Stanton, Mike Myers, Rheal Cormier and others are all out of the league. There just aren’t many current specialists throwing in the low-80s. Brian Shouse and Daniel Ray Herrera are the only two, and even the ones who work in the upper-80s tend to throw at least as many breaking balls as fastballs when they’re facing quality left-handed hitters.
Besides the handedness, it’s worth noting the quality of the hitters above. A-Rod and Pujols are two of the game’s best, Braun isn’t far behind and Ortiz still has that reputation. Butler is the one Royal who scares pitchers, and given his career splits, he shouldn’t ever be facing left-handed relievers.
Cust is the real surprise. He’s at 91.8 this year after coming in at 90.9 and 90.8 the last two seasons. He’s known as an excellent fastball hitter, so he sees fewer fastballs than most of the hitters here (the only two of the 17 to see fewer are Pujols and Kubel). It’s probably just a fluke that he’s so high on the list. The A’s in general face harder throwers than most. Here’s the top and bottom six on a team basis (again, shamelessly taken from Fangraphs):
1. Red Sox – 91.6
1. Indians – 91.6
3. Blue Jays – 91.5
3. Athletics – 91.5
3. White Sox – 91.5
3. Royals – 91.5
25. Phillies – 90.9
26. Rangers – 90.9
27. Mets – 90.8
28. Pirates – 90.7
29. Cubs – 90.4
30. Marlins – 90.3

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.