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.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.