Wellemeyer loses about 5 mph on fastball
is the headline to article penned by Joe Strauss in today’s St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. The headline is culled entirely from the following quote
“Last year I was throwing 94-96 (mph), this year I’m topping out at
90-91,” he said. “I don’t know what it is but there’s definitely a
difference. It makes things more of a challenge, that’s for sure.”
With maybe five minutes of extra work, Strauss could have done
something to back or contradict Wellemeyer’s claim, but there’s
nothing. He does, at least, go to pitching coach Dave Duncan for an
additional comment, but whatever he got there wasn’t quote-worthy.
According to the article:
Pitching coach Dave Duncan suggests Wellemeyer is trying to be too
precise with his pitches, an observation Wellemeyer doesn’t dispute.
But Wellemeyer says the reason is his diminished velocity, which makes
his mistake pitches more vulnerable.
So, let’s go to the numbers. According to Baseball Info Solutions numbers presented at Fangraphs.com, Wellemeyer’s average fastball has slipped a bit, dropping from 92.3 mph to 91.5. PitchFx data had him at 92.2 in 2007, 92.7 last year and 91.4 this season.
Obviously, that’s not five mph. Five mph is huge. If his fastball was
down that much, he would have been demoted to the bullpen or place on
the disabled list a month ago.
Instead, Wellemeyer’s fastball is down about one mph, though not entirely consistently. As this chart shows, he’s been hanging around in the 92.0-92.5 range at times and dropping off to 90.5-91.0 in the others.
The drop likely is a problem. However, the bigger issue is that he’s
thinking about that drop. Duncan would surely prefer that he forget
about the radar gun readings and just go out and pitch. If Wellemeyer
can’t do that, he likely will find himself bounced from the rotation