After hitting 102.7 mph in debut, Aroldis Chapman throws 103.9 mph in second appearance

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Aroldis Chapman made jaws drop in his MLB debut earlier this week by averaging 100.3 miles per hour on six fastballs and topping out at 102.7 mph, which tied for the highest velocity ever recorded during three seasons of MLB.com’s Pitch-F/X system.
Or at least it was the highest.
Chapman made his second appearance last night, picking up his first career victory with a scoreless inning against the Brewers, and topped out at 103.9 mph. Seriously. He also threw a pitch at 103.8 mph and averaged 102.1 mph on seven fastballs, Yes, averaged 102.1 mph.
Chapman has thrown 13 fastballs so far at an average velocity of 101.3 miles per hour. To put that in some context, here are the highest average fastball velocities since 2007:
2010: Joel Zumaya – 99.3 mph
2009: Joel Zumaya – 99.3 mph
2008: Joel Zumaya – 97.5 mph
2007: Joel Zumaya – 97.5 mph
In other words, no one throws this hard. Chapman’s career is exactly two innings long at this point, yet he’s already thrown the three fastest pitches in Pitch-F/X history and his average velocity makes the previous king of hard-throwers, Joel Zumaya, look like Jamie Moyer.
Oh, and Chapman’s high-80s slider is nasty as hell too. He threw it four times last night and got three swinging strikes. I’m really not sure how someone would go about having success against a 101-mph fastball and wicked 87-mph slider. I guess the answer is “they wouldn’t.”
As the Reds pull further and further ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central it looks more and more like Chapman could have some Francisco Rodriguez-in-2002 potential in the playoffs.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.