Day: May 9, 2012

Kelvin Herrera

Kansas City’s Kelvin Herrera is MLB’s new hardest thrower


Averaging a cool 99.1 mph with his fastball, Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera has taken over as the league’s hardest thrower since being called up last month.

Here’s the top 10, according to Fangraphs data:

99.1 – Herrera
98.6 – Andrew Cashner (Padres)
98.4 – Henry Rodriguez (Nationals)
96.8 – Nate Jones (White Sox)
96.8 – Alexi Ogando (Rangers)
96.7 – Pedro Strop (Orioles)
96.4 – Aroldis Chapman (Reds)
96.3 – Jason Motte (Cardinals)
96.0 – Esmil Rogers (Rockies)
96.0 – Craig Kimbrel (Braves)

The top starter on the list is Stephen Strasburg at 95.7. Obviously, Strasburg and a few other starters could average in the high-90s for an inning like some of these relievers, but they have to pace themselves to go six or seven innings.

Herrera, a 22-year-old righty out of the Dominincan Republic, generates his big velocity despite standing just 5-foot-10. He has a 3.31 ERA and a 15/3 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings since joining the Royals.

Interesting is that, to this point anyway, Herrera has used his fastball less than any other pitcher on this list, throwing it just 55 percent of the time. Cashner and Rodriguez are both over 70 percent fastballs. Chapman throws his 84 percent of the time.

Cubs pull off an oddity: a win with only 26 plate appearances

Bryan LaHair

When the Cubs beat the Braves 1-0 on Wednesday, they did it sending a total of 26 men to the plate. It was the first time since 2007 that a team had won a nine-inning game without every spot in the order getting three plate appearances.

Of course, to pull off such a feat a team needs to be at home, meaning it wouldn’t have to bat in the ninth. It would have to score at least one run, meaning the fewest number of plate appearances the team could have is 25. The Cubs had 26 today.

What’s really incredible is that the Cubs actually had five hits. However, the first two singles were erased on double plays and Starlin Castro was thrown out at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. As a result, Tim Hudson faced the minimum through six.

The Cubs went on to get their run in the seventh on a single, a sac bunt, a groundout and another single. The first runner scored, while the second was left on base, the lone runner left on base for the team. The Cubs then went down in order in the eighth before holding on to win 1-0.

The last team to win a nine inning game while sending 26 men to the plate was the Tigers, against the Indians, on Aug. 21, 2007. They won 2-1 on a pair of solo homers from Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen.

The 1992 Braves were the last team to win a nine-inning game sending 25 men to the plate. They beat the Pirates 1-0 on July 25 on a David Justice homer, the only hit allowed by Danny Jackson.

Mariano Rivera was probably pitching in 2013 regardless

Mariano Rivera

Given that Mariano Rivera indicated he had already made a decision about his status for 2013 going into the spring, most assumed 2012 would be his last year. He wasn’t willing to reveal anything publically at the time, but speculation was that he’d announce his retirement in July.

We know that won’t happen now, as Rivera has confirmed he’ll return in 2013 following his season-ending knee injury. The surprise, though, is that it appears he intended to pitch next year all along:

I was leaning toward coming back. I was feeling strong on that. It’s hard. I was weighing how I feel, the traveling, the games, and it’s the same. The traveling, I hate it; the playing, I love it. I was torn between that.

It is pretty interesting the way he puts it, given that he termed it this spring as though his decision was made. Still, it sounds as though we were going to get mo’ Mo all along.

Zack Greinke knocks the Reds down, but John Axford lets ’em back up

Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers

Zack Greinke pitched eight shutout innings against the Reds this afternoon. He allowed only two hits. He struck out 11.  That’ll get you a win most days.  But not today.

That’s because Johnny Cueto pitched seven shutout innings himself and had better help from his bullpen and the Fates. The Reds beat the Brewers 2-1.

It was 0-0 entering the ninth when the usually reliable John Axford took over for Greinke, who had thrown 104 pitches to that point. Axford struck out the first two batters he faced, but then:

  • Drew Stubbs singled;
  • Joey Votto plated Stubbs with a double; and
  • Brandon Phillips plated Votto with a single.

Life comes at you fast, man.

Milwaukee got one back with a Ryan Braun homer in the bottom of the ninth, and then threatened big by loading the bases with two out.  Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek put out the fire by inducing a fly ball to end the game, however.

A tough luck no-decision for Greinke and a tough luck loss for the Brewers. But in a game this close the same would have been true if it went the other way.

Fake Outrage Alert: Bobby Valentine doesn’t like Josh Beckett playing golf

Boston Red Sox manager Valentine watches pitchers work out at the Red Sox new Major League Baseball spring training facility in Fort Myers

Fried Chicken? Pfft! That’s yesterday’s faux scandal.  Today’s Red Sox Nation tempest-in-a-beer keg is golf:

According to 98.5 the Sports Hub, Beckett went out for a round of golf last Thursday, just two days before he missed a scheduled start against the Orioles because of back stiffness … It’s a development that has predictably become fodder for talk radio stations in town, and Bobby Valentine — a weekly guest on WEEI — was forced to answer questions about Beckett’s golf game this afternoon.

It was “less than the best thing to do” if Beckett played golf, Valentine said.

Eh. This is going to become a thing, I presume, in which Valentine is accused of feuding with a player and Beckett accused of being me-first instead of team-first. But let’s head this off, shall we?

As Valentine himself said, Beckett missed the start for precautionary reasons, not because he was actually injured. Beckett said he probably could have pitched. So this should not be a golf or a Josh Beckett-related “scandal.”

It is, however, another instance in which Bobby Valentine’s complete inability to defuse a media-created controversy — those radio guys talking about the golf — by mouthing some managerly platitudes creates a problem where there need not have been one.

Keep the focus off your players, Bobby. It’s the first lesson of Manager School.