Baltimore Orioles: Top 5 Fastballs on the Pitching Staff
The Orioles don't have anyone like Aroldis Chapman on the team, but there are some guys that can crank up the heat and really attack hitters well.
The Orioles got rid of a couple of their top fastball pitchers in the last offseason, dealing David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to Arizona, but they have some hard throwers left. Among those I have left off this ranking are Zach Britton, who Baseball America rated as having the best fastball in the minors for the Orioles before the season, and newly acquired starter Tommy Hunter.
Here are the pitchers that make my list of the top five fastballs on the team.
5. Kevin Gregg, CL
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Kevin Gregg can be wild at times, but he makes his money on a powerful, hard-moving fastball.
Gregg's fastball can hit the mid-90s, but averages at 92.4 MPH. He often throws cutters and the movement attacks hitters late in games, but also affects his control. Captain Chaos refuses to give in to hitters and always tries to attack the corners, which makes his strikes more effective.
4. Jake Arrieta, SP
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Jake Arrieta was part of a terrific trio of young pitching prospects a couple of years ago, along with Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz. Among the three, Arrieta was considered to have the best heater.
Arrieta's fastball can touch the mid to high-90s, which is extremely impressive for a starting pitcher. He has averaged 92.5 MPH over his career, so he mostly sits a little lower in the 90s, but it is still very impressive. The Orioles and Arrieta hope that the potentially impending surgery on Arrieta's pitching elbow won't take that heat away.
3. Jeremy Guthrie, SP
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Jeremy Guthrie isn't exactly known for having an incredibly hard fastball, but he has touched the higher 90s often in his career. I get the feeling that Guthrie adds velocity in higher pressure games. In A-Rod's first game back from his hip injury in 2009, Guthrie was clocking in at 97 and 98 consistently in the game. A-Rod blasted a 98 MPH pitch out in his first at-bat, but the velocity was there nonetheless.
Guthrie's fastball has averaged 92.8 MPH over his career, but he also has great movement. He sometimes gets the ball hit just as hard out as it comes in, but Guthrie's power can blow hitters away at times.
2. Alfredo Simon, SP
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Some pitchers are able to add a couple miles per hour to their fastball when relieving instead of starting and that's been the case for Simon.
As a starter, Simon's fastball is mid-90s and is pretty hard, but in relief, it frequently hits the high-90s. The most impressive thing I have noticed is the sound that it makes in the glove. It sometimes comes as a result of hitting a spot in the glove, but Simon's fastball always makes a loud pop when it hits the glove. Simon is a big guy, 6'6" and 230 pounds, and his fastball is a direct result of that extra force.
1. Jim Johnson, RP
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Jim Johnson leads the Orioles in average speed for his fastball at 95 mph, but the most impressive thing about it is the sink on it.
Johnson has a spectacular 2.54 ground out to fly out ratio because he has terrific break on his fastball. The break is late and hard to pick up because of the speed, so the powerful setup man can easily mow down hitters in the late stages of the game.
It's no fluke that Johnson has just a 2.87 ERA because his fastball, which he throws almost 50 percent of the time, consistently beats hitters.