Three Velocity Decliners To Be Concerned About

We know that fastball velocity tends to increase as the season progresses. We all generally panic in April when our favorite sleeper’s velocity is down a mile per hour from last year, but usually by the end of the month, his velocity has returned and you’re able to sleep well at night again. But when we see a downtrend in velocity during the season, it’s a troubling sign. And the velocity charts on these three pitchers are concerning.

  Last 30 Days FBv 1st Half FBv Diff
Hector Santiago 89.9 91.5 -1.6

Hector Santiago velocity

Santiago did spend a bit of time in the Angels bullpen, but this overall trend is ugly. He’s also throwing fewer first pitch strikes, inducing a lower rate of swings and misses, and allowing a ton of fly balls. And yet, his ERA sits in the mid-3.00s! While his batted ball profile does lend itself to a low BABIP, a .264 mark looks a bit too low, and his roughly 6% HR/FB rate will rise. Combine that with a sudden lack of velocity, and I wouldn’t be counting on him as even a streamer candidate in shallow mixed leagues.

  Last 30 Days FBv 1st Half FBv Diff
Jake Odorizzi 89.7 90.7 -1

Jake Odorizzi velocity

After a disastrous April that saw him post a 6.85 ERA, Odorizzi has posted sub-4.00 marks in each month since with strong skills to support such improved performances. Although he’s still striking hitters out at a high rate, his fastball velocity has been dropping. He’s never thrown more than around 155 innings in a season, and he’s only about 20 innings away from that mark now. Is he losing steam? His xFIP sits at its highest monthly mark in August, excluding his weak April, as he has allowed an insane rate of fly balls above 60% heading into yesterday’s start. The inability to keep the ball down could be a sign of fatigue. His fly ball rate has actually risen every single month this year. I would be a bit worried that the rest of his skills experience a dip over the final month or so.

  Last 30 Days FBv 1st Half FBv Diff
Danny Duffy 92.7 93.4 -0.7

Danny Duffy velocity

Yuck. This is like a perfect downward slope. It’s especially concerning as he had undergone Tommy John surgery back in 2012. He has somehow managed to post a sub-3.00 ERA, despite strikeout and Swstk% rates in free fall and an extreme fly ball tendency. He is one of the biggest xBABIP overperformers and has outperformed his SIERA to a rather significant degree. Like Santiago above, Duffy does own a batted ball profile that supports a low BABIP. But there’s simply no way a .232 mark is sustainable. And besides, he has posted almost distributions in 2011 and 2012, yet his BABIP marks stood at .329 both season over a small sample of innings.

It’s good to see that his control has improved dramatically as he is now throwing strikes at a league average clip. But all his pitches have been below average in generating whiffs (aside from his two-seamer over a small sample of pitches), and he needs to get that strikeout rate back up to keep runners off the bases when his HR/FB rate inevitably regresses back toward the league average. With his prior prospect pedigree, he’s a prime sell high guy, especially in keeper 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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8 years ago

Does Duffy’s first half velocity (93.4) include his relief appearances? We know that will skew the results, although Duffy is likely to regress anyways given your analysis.

On a side note, what happened to the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show? I haven’t seen a new podcast in months.

8 years ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

So what you’re saying is… the podcast was the “gun”? That sucks to hear. It was one of my favorite podcasts. Maybe you could guest star on the Sleeper and the Bust from time to time.

8 years ago
Reply to  Mike Podhorzer

yeah, that was my favorite fantasy podcast. gun and cannoli was a great segment.

sad to see it go.