Last 14 Day Starting Pitcher Velocity Surgers — Jun 8, 2022

Pitcher true talent changes more frequently than hitters, and one of the reasons why is because of fluctuating velocities. It’s helpful to monitor velocity changes as it could portend a change in performance. Of course, velocity isn’t usually very stable from start to start, but if a trend emerges, it could be a good or bad sign, depending on the direction of the trend. So let’s review the starting pitchers who have enjoyed a fastball velocity spike over the last 14 days, which likely equates to two to three starts.

FBv Surgers
Name Through May 23 K% Last 14 Day K% Through May 23 FBv Last 14 Day FBv FBv diff
Nestor Cortes 32.4% 21.4% 90.6 92.2 1.6
Chris Bassitt 24.5% 26.4% 92.3 93.8 1.5
Kevin Gausman 28.9% 23.5% 94.2 95.6 1.4
Zach Plesac 13.8% 25.4% 91.3 92.5 1.2
Cal Quantrill 15.1% 15.4% 92.6 93.6 1.0

This is a big deal for Nestor Cortes. He came into the season with below average fastball velocity, which is likely part of the reason he has bounced around and first got an extended look in a starting rotation last year, at the age of 26. This velocity spike at least gets him closer to the league average and could help his mediocre secondary offerings play up. He has been quite the surprise this year, especially considering his SwStk% is actually below the league average. But a high called strike rate, plus an elite foul strike rate, has partially offset that and has led to a near 30% season strikeout rate. That seems like a fluke though, and currently, only his cutter is generating a double digit SwStk%, and barely at that.

Sure enough, his strikeout rate has tumbled recently, but still remains high overall. That velocity spike is going to have to really improve the whiffiness of his other pitches, as I have a hard time finding his strikeout rate anything close to sustainable. At some point, his BABIP, HR/FB, and LOB% luck is going to fade, so he makes for an excellent sell candidate.

From down velocity to up velocity, this would represent Chris Bassitt’s highest ever fastball velocity if he posted it all year. What’s interesting about his repertoire is that none of his pitches truly stand out, and yet he has thrown five different pitches that have recorded a low double digit SwStk%! I have never seen that kind of consistency from so many pitches before. Bassitt has benefited from the velocity spike so far, as his strikeout rate has increased, so let’s monitor to see if he could sustain the surge.

Kevin Gausman also appeared on my SwStk% surger list, but I noted his overall season velocity was stable. However, it has jumped over the last 14 days, though his strikeout rate hasn’t jumped along with it. That last 14 day velocity mark would represent his highest since his 2013 debut. It’s anyone’s guess whether it’s sustainable, but owners should not worry about the recent drop in strikeout rate.

Another on a recent list, Zach Plesac made it onto yesterday’s SwStk% decliner list. But hey, maybe something is happening over these last 14 days as his velocity has increased and his strikeout rate skyrocketed! While his last 14 day velocity is still a bit below his previous three seasons, it’s a significant improvement from what he had been recording. It still doesn’t explain what has happened to his strikeout rate, as his velocity was the same during 2020’s breakout as it was during 2021’s disappointment.

Aaaaand there’s Cal Quantrill again, who also appeared on yesterday’s list, ranking third among SwStk% decliners. Like Plesac, the velocity spike is good, as Quantrill had been down big this year, but this surge still stops short of where he has been in previous seasons. Even with velocity averaging over 94 MPH, he still failed to generate a double digit SwStk%, so I wouldn’t bank on that happening with sub-94 MPH velocity. Let’s see how long this soft skill set can continue to massively outperform his SIERA.

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

Kevin Gausman looks like the only one here that’s an obvious buy candidate.