Reds flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman is almost ready to return from facial fractures, but in the meantime the Hardest-Thrower In Baseball title belongs to someone new.
Here are the leaders in average fastball velocity after one month of the season among pitchers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs:
Yordano Ventura 96.7
Nathan Eovaldi 96.0
Garrett Richards 95.9
Gerrit Cole 95.6
Jose Fernandez 95.4
Ages of the five starters with the fastest average fastballs: 22, 24, 25, 23, 21. And apparently being named Garrett/Gerrit helps, too. My crush on Yordano Ventura is well-documented in this space, but suffice it to say that the Royals rookie is living up to the hype, velocity-wise and performance-wise, leading all starters with both a 96.7 mph fastball average and a 1.50 ERA. He’s a bad, bad man.
Kelvin Herrera 97.1
Carlos Martinez 97.0
Jordan Walden 96.7
Jake McGee 96.7
Trevor Rosenthal 96.2
Just for some context, Chapman averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball last season. St. Louis places setup man Carlos Martinez and closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top five velocity list and Jake McGee of the Rays is the only left-hander in either top five.
Oh, and the softest-thrower in baseball? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 82.0 mph, followed by slop-slinging southpaws Mark Buehrle at 83.2 mph and Bruce Chen at 83.9 mph.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.