Can hard-throwing Cabrera challenge Chapman's throne?
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, left, shakes hands with catcher Austin Romine after the Yankees defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in a baseball game Friday, July 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Aroldis Chapman may finally have some competition for the title of baseball's hardest-throwing pitcher.
Of course, the Cuban left-hander raised the bar even higher over the past week.
Chapman reached 105.1 mph Monday night, matching the fastest pitch since Major League Baseball started tracking speeds in 2008. Chapman – whose stint with the New York Yankees could end at any moment with the trade deadline approaching – threw 13 pitches of at least 104 mph from Monday through Saturday. Nobody in baseball had reached that mark all season until then.
Article continues below ...
Chapman's fastball has been in a class by itself – to the point that MLB.com has a ''Chapman Filter'' on its Statcast leaderboard in case fans want to view the list of fastest pitches without him included. For the rest of this season, however, he might have some company. Mauricio Cabrera, a 22-year-old right-hander who made his major league debut for the Atlanta Braves in late June, reached 103.8 mph Monday night against Cincinnati.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Cabrera is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 12 appearances, although all that power has led to only seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. Cabrera's four-seam fastball averages 100.7 mph, which is actually ahead of Chapman's average four-seamer of 100.5.
MLB rolled out its Statcast system last year, and fans can look up leaderboards for pitch speeds and other interesting categories. The longest home run of the season belongs to Nomar Mazara of Texas (491 feet on May 25), and the highest exit velocity was 123.9 mph off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton on June 9.
That figure didn't come on one of Stanton's prodigious homers, by the way. It came on a double-play grounder.
Seattle's Nelson Cruz has the highest average exit velocity at 95.8 mph, and Philadelphia catcher Cameron Rupp is second at 95.1. Rupp's slugging percentage has jumped from .374 in 2015 to .487 this year.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
BUY OR SELL?
The Aug. 1 deadline for trades without waivers is now a week away, and several teams are occupying that shaky middle ground where it's hard to say how aggressive they'll be. The Tigers, Yankees, Mariners, Royals and White Sox are all between four and 6 1/2 games of a wild card in the American League.
In the NL, the situation seems a bit more clear cut, with almost every team either firmly in the hunt for a playoff spot or way behind. The only exception is probably Colorado, which is six games behind a wild card, but the Rockies have a ways to go before establishing themselves as contenders. They've gone 7-3 since the All-Star break against a schedule that included seven games against Atlanta and three against Tampa Bay.
The trade deadline often leads to significant upheaval among closer jobs as relievers get dealt. If Chapman is traded, for example, look for save opportunities to start falling Andrew Miller's way again in New York. (That's assuming Miller isn't also dealt.)
LINE OF THE WEEK
Hanley Ramirez homered three times for Boston in an 11-7 victory over San Francisco on Wednesday night. He actually had three home runs by the sixth inning but grounded out to the pitcher in the eighth.
Ramirez has 13 homers on the season after going deep Saturday and Sunday. He's also played in 90 of Boston's 96 games – a significant fact since Ramirez hasn't played more than 128 games in a season since 2012.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister