Move over Aroldis, the National League might have a new hardest thrower.
As Dan Brooks pointed out, PitchFX data had Padres reliever Andrew Cashner averaging 102.2 mph with his fastball on Sunday. He threw 10 pitches in his scoreless innings out of the pen, all of them heaters. According to the data, they ranged between 100.5 and 103.3 mph.
For those unfamiliar with the Cashner saga, the former first-round pick debuted with the Cubs as a reliever in 2010 and then won the fifth spot in the team’s rotation a year ago, only to hurt his shoulder in his season debut. He didn’t return until September, and he was a reliever again then. The Padres acquired him for top prospect Anthony Rizzo in the offseason and immediately announced their intention to leave him in the pen, at least for 2012. He’s expected to work as a setup man in front of closer Huston Street.
According to Baseball Info Solutions data, Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez was the game’s hardest thrower last year, averaging 98.0 mph with his fastball. That barely eclipsed Aroldis Chapman, whose fastball came in at 97.9. Chapman, though, did have more fastballs register at 100+ mph, topping Rodriguez 158-127. Cashner may well beat out both this year if he can stay healthy. Chapman may hit triple-digits once in a while as a starter, but it won’t happen as often as it did out of the pen.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.