Everyone already knew that Royals rookie Yordano Ventura throws incredibly hard, but his 2014 debut last night was on a whole different level.
Ventura–who won’t be 23 years old until June–tossed six innings of shutout, two-hit ball against the Rays and, according to MLB.com’s PitchFX system, topped out at 102.9 miles per hour with his fastball.
That’s some Aroldis Chapman territory, which is rarefied air for a starter, and PitchFX also says Ventura averaged 99.5 mph on 45 total fastballs last night. Last season, during an impressive three-start debut for the Royals, his fastball averaged 97.5 mph. So maybe he’s throwing even harder now. [Drool.]
Some other amusing notes from Ventura’s first start of the season, via the indispensable Brooks Baseball: PitchFX says his “cutter” averaged 96.4 mph. So that’s what hitters have to deal with when he decides to take a little something off his fastball and add more movement. One of his “cutters” clocked in at 98.4 mph. Imagine trying to hit that. Oh, and his changeup averaged 89.5 mph, which is faster than many full-time starting pitcher’s fastballs.
Yordano Ventura: Must-See TV.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.