Stat of the day: AFL fastball velocities

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Very cool stuff from Baseball America, which has gathered Pitch F/X data from the recently completed AFL season. Here were the league’s 10 hardest throwers, as ranked by their average fastball velocity (for a complete listing, check out their blog.
1. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) – 96.8
2. Sergio Santos (White Sox) – 96.0
3. Tanner Scheppers (Rangers) – 95.9
4. Phillipe Aumont (Mariners) – 94.9
5. Drew Storen (Nationals) – 94.8
6. Kenley Jansen (Dodgers) – 94.8
7. Jenrry Mejia (Mets) – 94.5
8. Scott Mathieson (Phillies) – 94.5
9. Blake Wood (Royals) – 94.4
10. Craig Kimbrel (Braves) – 94.4
Besides Strasburg, of course, many of these pitchers are relievers. Aumont and Storen are two of the game’s very best relief prospects, and both should reach the majors in 2010. Kimbrel isn’t all that far behind. Two of the remaining relievers are former position players: Santos was a former first-round pick of the Diamondbacks as a shortstop and Jansen was a catcher for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
The most encouraging results were from Scheppers and Mathieson. Scheppers was a clear first-round talent in both the 2008 and ’09 drafts, but teams were uncertain about his shoulder. He signed with the Rangers in September after going 44th overall in this year’s draft. Mathieson has been a prospect forever, but he’s dealt with numerous arm problems. That he put together such a good showing in Arizona caused the Phillies to put him back on their 40-man roster, and he might be a possibility for their pen in May or June.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

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The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.