Tigers ace Justin Verlander did a number of impressive things over the course of his nine-inning no-hitter Saturday in Toronto. He threw 74 of his 108 pitches for strikes, induced 12 groundball outs, and issued just one walk to the 27 batters that he faced.
But the most impressive feat of the historical outing was a 100 mph fastball that Verlander delivered to final batter Rajai Davis with two outs in the ninth inning. It was his 106th pitch and the third-to-last offering of the afternoon. Davis fouled it off before whiffing on a slider two pitches later.
It wasn’t the only time Verlander was caught pushing the radar gun to its limit. According to MLB.com’s Gameday application, which uses the trustworthy Pitch-F/x system, the right-hander from Richmond, Virginia also hit 100 mph in the seventh and eighth innings. He topped out at 101 mph.
Possessing triple-digit velocity isn’t necessary for big league domination. Francisco Liriano is averaging 92.1 mph on his fastball this season and he threw a no-no just a handful of days ago. Mark Buehrle, who rarely tops 88 mph, threw one in July of 2009 and April of 2007. But that 100 mph fastball that Verlander delivered today with the Rogers Centre crowd wavering on who to root for is an indication of the kind of arm strength and clean mechanics that go along with being one of the most lethal pitchers in the game.
Verlander is one of three active pitchers with multiple no-hitters. The others: Buehrle and Roy Halladay.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.