Stephen Strasburg, David Price are this year’s hardest throwers

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Among starting pitchers anyway. Here’s the top 10 for fastball velocity among ERA qualifiers this season (data taken from Fangraphs):

1. Stephen Strasburg (Was) – 95.4 mph
2. David Price (TB) – 95.2
3. Danny Duffy (KC) – 95.0
4. Jeff Samardzija (ChC) – 94.7
5. Juan Nicasio (Col) – 94.1
6. Matt Garza (ChC) – 94.0
7. Neftali Feliz (Tex) – 93.9
8. Justin Verlander (Det) – 93.9
9. Kyle Drabek (Tor) – 93.8
10. Max Scherzer (Det) – 93.7
11. Daniel Hudson (Ari) – 93.7

– Verlander was the leader among full-time starters last year, coming in at 95.0, so he’s down a bit early. Right behind him last year was David Price at 94.8.  Price is actually up a bit so far this season.

– Yu Darvish clocks in at  93.0 with his heater and 89.4 with his cutter.

– Tim Lincecum is down from 92.3 mph last year to 90.2 mph this year, according to Fangraphs data.  Felix Hernandez has experienced a similar drop from 93.3 to 91.4.

– Interesting to note is that Mike Pelfrey just missed the list, coming in at 93.5 before landing on the DL today with swelling in his elbow. That’s a signficant increase from the 92.0 and 92.2 he was at the previous two years.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.