Topping 100 MPH Becoming Commonplace
There are still tales being spun about Randy Johnson and the incredible velocity that the 6-foot-10 left-hander possessed, even though he retired from baseball in 2009.
The five-time Cy Young Award winner had a pitch clocked at 102 miples per hour in 2004. Several years later, Justin Verlander hit 103 on the radar gun. There are hitters who still shudder at memories of trying to catch up with Nolan Ryan’s fastball.
There was a time when a pitcher having the ability to reach triple digits with a pitch was a noteworthy event. These days, there are many staffs who have pitchers with the ability to top 100 mph.
One thing about the current-day pitchers bringing such heat is that hitters have become more accustomed at turning around even on the fastest pitch.
No Relief in Sight
When the St. Louis Cardinals summon Ryan Helsley from the bullpen or the New York Yankees call upon Aroldis Chapman to close out a game, it is not the best time to be a major league hitter — waiting for the delivery that could end up being the fastest pitch in MLB.
Helsley has the best odds at +140 to throw the fastest pitch. He has been lights out for the Cardinals with one hit and no runs allowed in eight appearances. In 10 innings, Helsley has struck out 20 batters. In his first two appearances in May, the 27-year-old right-handed reliever struck out eight of the 11 batters he has faced.
Like Helsley, Chapman also has an ERA of 0.00.
The Cuban left-hander’s strikeout rate is down from earlier in his career. He has 11 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. He comes in at +300 to have the fastest pitch in 2022.
When it comes to relievers, Helsley and Chapman would be near the top of the list of the top MLB pitchers with a chance to throw the fastest pitch.
The only other pitcher on this list with an ERA under 2.00 is Jorge Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles. He checks in at +2000 on the list. The question is: When he tops out with his best pitch, will it be a strike or a ball? Lopez has 16 strikeouts and nine walks, so all the speed in the world won’t be helpful with pitches out of the strike zone.
Greene’s Power Not Enough
Ask a pitching coach, what makes a great pitcher and speed will not be the first word mentioned. Movement and location are more important to the success than just lighting up the radar gun.
The poster child for this is Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene. Greene was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. When he makes a start, reports of how many of his pitches hit triple digits are sure to follow. It won’t be a surprise if he ends up throwing the fastest pitch in the majors.
However, Greene is 1-4 with an ERA of 8.71. He has allowed 10 home runs in 20.2 innings of work. There are just six pitchers with better odds to throw the fastest pitch, but he easily has the highest ERA of those 15 pitchers.
The next closest one is Liam Hendricks of the Chicago White Sox at 4.61.
Speedsters Come From all Walks of Life
The pitchers on the list to be the fastest hurler in Major League Baseball don’t come from one part of the world.
Four of the 15 are natives of the Dominican Republic. Mexico, Australia, Cuba, Peru, Puerto Rico and Japan are also represented.
Helsley, an Oklahoma native, leads the list of American-born players. Greene joins fellow Californian Gerrit Cole on the list. Cole is a former No. 1 overall selection.
Only two of the 15 players are lefties. Chapman is the oldest player among the 15 and is joined by 24-year-old Jesus Luzardo of the Miami Marlins. Seven of the 15 are age 25 or younger, so things are just getting started with these fireballers.
No Defined Roles for Fireballers
There was a time when the fastest pitcher on the staff would typically become the closer. However, looking at the current list, the roles are as different as the players themselves.
There are four closers, five setup men, five starting pitchers and Jordan Hicks, who has been used in every way conceivable by the St. Louis Cardinals.
As more and more elite prospects work their way up the pitching ladder, there is no one set role for the players capable of topping 100 mph on the radar gun.
Names like Jhoan Duran, Andrés Muñoz, Camilo Doval, Spencer Strider, Jorge Lopez and Jesus Luzardo might not be household names. However, that figures to change, especially since Duran and Munoz join Hicks and Chapman with the second-best odds (+300) to throw the fastest pitch during the 2022 MLB season.
Stay tuned as there will be new names to emerge on the list to throw the fastest pitch, perhaps some as soon as the latter stages of the 2022 MLB season.Follow us on Twitter