Reds flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman is almost ready to return from facial fractures, but in the meantime the Hardest-Thrower In Baseball title belongs to someone new.
Here are the leaders in average fastball velocity after one month of the season among pitchers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs:
Yordano Ventura 96.7
Nathan Eovaldi 96.0
Garrett Richards 95.9
Gerrit Cole 95.6
Jose Fernandez 95.4
Ages of the five starters with the fastest average fastballs: 22, 24, 25, 23, 21. And apparently being named Garrett/Gerrit helps, too. My crush on Yordano Ventura is well-documented in this space, but suffice it to say that the Royals rookie is living up to the hype, velocity-wise and performance-wise, leading all starters with both a 96.7 mph fastball average and a 1.50 ERA. He’s a bad, bad man.
Kelvin Herrera 97.1
Carlos Martinez 97.0
Jordan Walden 96.7
Jake McGee 96.7
Trevor Rosenthal 96.2
Just for some context, Chapman averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball last season. St. Louis places setup man Carlos Martinez and closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top five velocity list and Jake McGee of the Rays is the only left-hander in either top five.
Oh, and the softest-thrower in baseball? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 82.0 mph, followed by slop-slinging southpaws Mark Buehrle at 83.2 mph and Bruce Chen at 83.9 mph.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.