Damn, kid! Yordano Ventura threw a 103 mph pitch last night

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Everyone already knew that Royals rookie Yordano Ventura throws incredibly hard, but his 2014 debut last night was on a whole different level.

Ventura–who won’t be 23 years old until June–tossed six innings of shutout, two-hit ball against the Rays and, according to MLB.com’s PitchFX system, topped out at 102.9 miles per hour with his fastball.

That’s some Aroldis Chapman territory, which is rarefied air for a starter, and PitchFX also says Ventura averaged 99.5 mph on 45 total fastballs last night. Last season, during an impressive three-start debut for the Royals, his fastball averaged 97.5 mph. So maybe he’s throwing even harder now. [Drool.]

Some other amusing notes from Ventura’s first start of the season, via the indispensable Brooks Baseball: PitchFX says his “cutter” averaged 96.4 mph. So that’s what hitters have to deal with when he decides to take a little something off his fastball and add more movement. One of his “cutters” clocked in at 98.4 mph. Imagine trying to hit that. Oh, and his changeup averaged 89.5 mph, which is faster than many full-time starting pitcher’s fastballs.

Yordano Ventura: Must-See TV.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.