Last 14 Day Starting Pitcher Velocity Decliners — Jun 9, 2022

Yesterday, I discussed the five starting pitchers who have increased their fastball velocity the most over the last 14 days compared to the rest of the season prior. Let’s now review the starting pitchers who have suffered fastball velocity declines over the last 14 days.

FBv Decliners
Name Through May 24 K% Last 14 Day K% Through May 24 FBv Last 14 Day FBv FBv Diff
Garrett Whitlock 29.0% 14.8% 95.4 94.6 -0.8
Carlos Rodon 34.1% 19.7% 96.4 95.6 -0.8
Eric Lauer 32.9% 15.5% 94.0 93.2 -0.8
Kyle Wright 29.5% 21.8% 95.2 94.5 -0.7
Marco Gonzales 13.9% 13.0% 88.3 87.6 -0.7

Garrett Whitlock opened the season in the Red Sox bullpen, but transitioned to the starting rotation and has been starting games since Apr 23. You would expect his velocity to decline as a starting pitcher, but his strikeout rate drop is alarming. Of course, that’s because he failed to strike out a single batter during his June 1 start in which he faced 20 hitters. Since three starts is a fairly small sample, one bad game is having an outsized effect on his average. Sure enough, his fastball velocity was his lowest of the year at just 93.7 MPH, the only time he has averaged less than 94.7 MPH. That’s a big dip. The good news is that it immediately rebounded during his last start, jumping back to 94.8 MPH. It’s worth monitoring his velocity now and if it takes another big dip, it might be valid to be concerned. For now, he looks solid.

Given his injury history, there’s always going to be concern that Carlos Rodon is hurt if his velocity dips. Unfortunately, his last 14 day average was dragged down by his last start, when his velocity dipped to just 94.8 MPH, the first start it’s been below 95.5 MPH. If you’re a Rodon owner, I would check his velocity during his next start and hope it rebounds, or it’s possible we might be hearing about an IL stint at some point after. The other side of it is that 94.8 MPH still represents the second highest velocity of his career and only down marginally from last year’s massive spike. So he could certainly succeed with it, but it’s the injury worry that the velocity decline might hint at that is concerning.

Did you realize that Eric Lauer is in the midst of a skills-supported breakout? His fastball velocity has been well up all year, supporting the increased SwStk% and strikeout rate, but it dipped to the lowest mark of the season during his last start. In fact, it looks like the early season velocity surge couldn’t be maintained. Over his first six starts, he averaged more than 94 MPH five times, averaging 94.1 MPH overall. In his four starts since, he hasn’t averaged more than 93.6 MPH in any game, and his average during those games has dropped to 93.2 MPH. That’s still higher than last year, but it makes it hard to believe his strikeout rate spike is sustainable, especially given the pedestrian SwStk%, that’s only marginally higher than last year.

Kyle Wright is another of the season’s big breakouts, thanks to a velocity spike and rebound off last year. His velocity has been a bit more inconsistent than the others though, as his average game velocity has ranged from a low of 94 three starts ago (included in the last 14 day average) to a high of 96.4 MPH. That’s a big gap between highest and lowest average game velocities. That’s not the greatest attribute to have, but it makes me less concerned about the last 14 day velocity decline.

When your fastball already averages less than 90 MPH, you can’t really afford to continue losing velocity. That’s the situation Marco Gonzales finds himself in. His early season velocity was right in line with his last two years. However, his velocity has dipped below 88 MPH in each of his last three starts (only his last two starts are included in the last 14 day average). That suggests that something is going on, but his strikeout rate had collapsed even before dipping below 88 MPH with his fastball. Once again, Gonzales has significantly outperformed his SIERA, and now isn’t even striking out batters at anywhere close to a league average clip. I’m not a risk taker when it comes to low strikeout pitchers, so give me a middle reliever instead in even the deepest of AL-Only leagues.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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1 year ago

Rodon – at higher velocity he’s a Cy candidate and in the discussion for best SP in the game. At the lower velo he’s just a high end pitcher. No idea why SF worked him so hard right out the gate rather than bringing him along slowly like TB did with Mcclanahan. There was no need for a guy with his injury history to eclipse 100 pitches in April and the 110 pitch outing was especially unnecessary.