clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

There are 89 days until Opening Day!

Today's Opening Day countdown tie-in takes a look at 89 mph fastballs.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

're kicking off the new year with a count down to Opening Day. I'm going to have a new article up for you everyday from now until MLB's Opening Day--April 4. That's 89 days from now. I was trying to think of a theme and I decided to just randomly pick a stat, event, or maybe even jersey number represented by the number of days left until opening day. Today I'm going to take a look at some 89 mph fastballs.

Specifically I'm going to look at all the qualified starters in 2015 that owned an average fastball velocity at or near 89 mph. I thought this would be interesting because the Brewers recently traded for a young starter whose fastball sits around 88-90 mph. That is of course Zach Davies.

Among all qualified starters in 2015 the list of 89 mph fastball is a mere 10 pitchers long. It's not altogether surprising as velocity has been trending up in baseball for years. The general assumption now seems to be that one cannot survive at the major league level without high velocity. But as the following list will show, that's just not true.

Chris Sale 32.1 4.9 .232 1.09 3.41 2.73 6.2
Dallas Keuchel 23.7 5.6 .216 1.02 2.48 2.91 6.1
Kyle Hendricks 22.6 5.8 .241 1.16 3.95 3.36 3.4
Alex Wood 17.4 7.4 .268 1.36 3.84 3.69 2.6
Mike Fiers 23.7 8.4 .234 1.25 3.69 4.03 2.6
Marco Estrada 18.1 7.6 .202 1.04 3.13 3.40 1.8
John Danks 16.2 7.3 .275 1.41 4.71 4.49 1.8
Chris Heston 18.9 8.6 .253 1.31 3.95 4.02 1.3
Jon Niese 14.7 7.1 .272 1.40 4.13 4.41 0.9
Aaron Harang 14.4 6.8 .274 1.39 4.86 4.83 0.8

As you can see there are some very successful pitchers on this list--including the American League Cy Young Award winner. I am not at all comparing Zach Davies with Dallas Keuchel though. I just want to point out that pitchers can have success with fringe average fastballs. It's somewhat rare, but not unheard of.

You'll also have noticed there are two former Brewers on this list--Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada. Each had a reasonably successful season. The value range for these two is 1.8-2.6 wins or approximately 2-3 wins. I think that's probably the value range we might be able to expect from Davies. Though again, that's not to suggest he's exactly the same type of pitcher.

If you include Zach Davies among these pitcher he looks rather unique. His main three pitches are a two-seam fastball, sinker, and change-up. Nothing he throws is straight. No other pitcher on this list features a repertoire all that similar. Keuchel and Harang come closest, but they each use a four seam fastball as a primary pitch.

It should come as no surprise that Davis enjoyed a strong ground ball rate during his short stint at the major league level in 2015. So did Keuchel. Fiers and Estrada, on the other hand, are both extreme fly ball pitchers.

I really like the pitch mix Davies utilizes. It's rather unique among starters. His fastball is fringe average, but his change up has been rated as plus to double-plus. That coupled with above average command of his pitches excites me. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with a full season at the major league level--starting in 89 days.