Move over Aroldis, the National League might have a new hardest thrower.
As Dan Brooks pointed out, PitchFX data had Padres reliever Andrew Cashner averaging 102.2 mph with his fastball on Sunday. He threw 10 pitches in his scoreless innings out of the pen, all of them heaters. According to the data, they ranged between 100.5 and 103.3 mph.
For those unfamiliar with the Cashner saga, the former first-round pick debuted with the Cubs as a reliever in 2010 and then won the fifth spot in the team’s rotation a year ago, only to hurt his shoulder in his season debut. He didn’t return until September, and he was a reliever again then. The Padres acquired him for top prospect Anthony Rizzo in the offseason and immediately announced their intention to leave him in the pen, at least for 2012. He’s expected to work as a setup man in front of closer Huston Street.
According to Baseball Info Solutions data, Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez was the game’s hardest thrower last year, averaging 98.0 mph with his fastball. That barely eclipsed Aroldis Chapman, whose fastball came in at 97.9. Chapman, though, did have more fastballs register at 100+ mph, topping Rodriguez 158-127. Cashner may well beat out both this year if he can stay healthy. Chapman may hit triple-digits once in a while as a starter, but it won’t happen as often as it did out of the pen.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.