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

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.