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.
The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.
Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.
On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.