Michael Pineda, Justin Verlander are 2011’s hardest throwers

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Another leaderboard today.  This one, taken from Fangraphs.com, looks at the top fastballs for this year’s starting pitchers.

1. Michael Pineda (Mariners) – 95.8 mph
2. Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 95.0
3. David Price (Rays) – 94.9
4. Alexi Ogando (Rangers) – 94.2
5. Edwin Jackson (White Sox) – 93.8
6. Josh Johnson (Marlins) – 93.8
7. Edinson Volquez (Reds) – 93.8
8. Kyle Drabek (Blue Jays) – 93.4
9. Daniel Hudson (Diamondbacks) – 93.4
10. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) – 93.4
11. Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals) – 93.2
12. Derek Holland (Rangers) – 93.2
13. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 93.1
14. Matt Garza (Cubs) – 93.0
15. Tim Lincecum (Giants) – 93.0
16. Tyler Chatwood (Angels) – 92.9
17. Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies) – 92.8
18. CC Sabathia (Yankees) – 92.8
19. Josh Beckett (Red Sox) – 92.7
20. Matt Harrison (Rangers) – 92.6

No one should be very surprised by the top names on this list. Verlander, Price, Jackson and Johnson were all in the top six last year as well. Missing, though, is last year’s No. 1, Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez doesn’t qualify anyway after spending time on the DL last month, but he’s all of the way down to 92.8 mph this year after averaging 96.1 mph with his fastball each of the previous two years. For what it’s worth, he has been closer to 94 mph better lately. His worst starts came while he was dealing with a cut on his thumb last month.

One nice surprise is Lincecum’s return to the list. He averaged 94 mph with his fastball when he first entered the league, but he was down to 92.4 in 2009 and 91.3 last year before getting back up to 93.0 so far this season.

Here’s a look at the bottom five:

1. Livan Hernandez (Nationals) – 83.8 mph
2. R.A. Dickey (Mets) – 84.0
3. Jeff Francis (Royals) – 85.4
4. Mark Buehrle (White Sox) – 85.4
5. Bruce Chen (Royals) – 85.9

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.