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Early Pitching Velocity Trends

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It appears that the pitching staff is still getting warmed up, despite participating in a full Spring Training.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

In the first two games of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals have struggled to pitch. This is much different than last season when the team’s pitching usually allowed it to win games while the lineup struggled to produce. However, due to a few key injuries to starters like Miles Mikolas, Kwang-Hyun Kim, and Dakota Hudson, the Cardinals’ pitching results may not be as good for the first few weeks of the season.

However, it is important to remember that the team has played just two games so far this season, so anything can still happen as teams are simply trying to settle into the season at this point.

Even though it is early in the season, there are now some results to analyze. There is certainly too small of a sample size to make any conclusions, but there are some pitchers whose average velocity dropped in their first appearances. This is certainly something to keep an eye on as even a loss of one or two miles per hour can be significant. Once again, however, it is still early and there is still plenty of time for these pitchers to regain their velocity.

One of the most notable pitchers to have lost some velocity from his fastball is Jack Flaherty. In 2020, his fastball average 94 miles per hour, but in his first start this season, it average 92.5 miles per hour. This would certainly be significant if his diminished velocity lasted over the course of the entire season. However, it seems likely that his velocity will return despite his bad first outing as his maximum fastball velocity was 95.9 miles per hour. This means that he still has the velocity in the tank and is likely just getting warmed up this early in the season.

Another pitcher who has lost a bit of velocity in his first appearances is Tyler Webb. The 30-year-old average 88.9 miles per hour on his fastball on opening day, which is just over one mile per hour off his average of 90 mph in 2020. However, his fastball gained a tick in his last appearance, and he seems to be returning to his normal levels. This is something that may happen to Jack Flaherty in his next outing as he will certainly look to improve his fastball velocity.

Perhaps the most noticeable drops in velocity have occurred with two of the Cardinals flame-throwing relievers. In their respective first appearances, Genesis Cabrera was down 1.2 miles per hour on his four seam fastball and more than 2 miles per hour on every other pitch, while Jordan Hicks was down 3.4 miles per hour on his fastball.

These numbers are more significant as these pitchers tend to rely on their elite velocity to get hitters out. Cabrera may simply be a case of getting warmed up as well, while Hicks is returning from a major injury, and thus, will likely require a few appearances before he starts throwing 100 mph again.

Interestingly, the only pitcher whose average fastball velocity rose in his first appearance was the 39-year-old Adam Wainwright. Thus, even though there was a full Spring Training this season, it seems that the Cardinals arms are still getting warmed up. This means that the pitching results will likely improve as the pitchers get more settled into the season. It is interesting that the pitching staff is still not entirely loose, but this also means that the first few pitching results of the season will likely improve relatively quickly.