It would seem by looking at the World Series participants the past four years that having the hardest throwing pitching staff in the league is a nice advantage to have.
There is now less than two months remaining in the 2015 MLB season and MLB odds on World Series, American League and National League Futures are sill available at many sportsbooks such as 5 Dimes.
If you are looking for an edge in making you Futures selections, have you ever considered placing pennant wagers on the teams with the hardest throwing pitching staffs? We bring this up because the hardest throwing pitching staffs in terms of average velocity in the Major Leagues have advanced to the World Series in three of the last four years!
Now granted all three of those teams – the 2011 Texas Rangers, 2013 St. Louis Cardinals and 2014 Kansas City Royals – all lost their respective World Series, but just the fact those teams reached that point makes the hardest throwing teams worthy of league pennant Future consideration at the very least.
So that moved us to look up who the hardest throwing pitching staffs in the Major Leagues are here in 2015, and as fate would have it, four of the five hardest throwing teams are playoff teams or potential playoff teams! For the record, the lone exception is the Cleveland Indians, who are actually second on the average team velocity list.
As for the other four teams, the first three we shall list are all in the National League, while the fourth team on our list (fifth overall if Cleveland is included) is the lone American League team and thus the most logical candidate for a Pennant Future.
So without further ado, here are those four probable playoff teams listed in order of average velocity. We are also including Pennant Future (NL or AL) and World Series Future (WS) odds as of August 7th, 2015, courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
New York Mets (NL +625, WS +1250): We mentioned last week that the Mets are one team that nobody wants to face in a short playoff series because of their pitching, and they added a big bat at the trading deadline in Yoenis Cespedes, increasing the chances that we will see this team in the playoffs. And if that happens, will they continue the recent trend of teams with literally the highest average velocity in the majors advancing to the World Series? Incredibly, the Mets have thrown 3.308 pitches this season clocked at 95 MPH or better. To put that in perspective, the Indians have thrown the second most of at least that average speed at 1,966! Is it any wonder other National League teams are ruing the fact that the Mets added a big bat to help them get to the playoffs?
Matt Harvey is considered the Mets ace and his conventional fastball has averaged 95.2 MPH this year, but his average velocity has actually been higher with his two-seam fastball at 95.8! And with that, Harvey is not even the hardest thrower among Mets’ starters as that honor belongs to young Noah Syndergaard, who has averaged 96.1 on his standard fastball and an amazing 96.9 on his sinker, which has made him impossible to hit at times. And Jacob deGrom has not been too shabby either averaging 94.8 MPH on his heater.
Pittsburgh Pirates (NL +700, WS +1450): While the Mets have averaged the highest velocity among all pitches throws this season, the straight fastball average of Mets’ starting pitchers of 93.7 MPH is actually second in the Major Leagues…behind the Pittsburgh Pirates at 94.3! The difference is that the Pirates don’t have pitchers with secondary pitches that average in the 90s like the Mets do, with the exception of the 91.0 MPH sinker of A.J. Burnett. That does not make the Pittsburgh staff any easier to hit though, so the Pirates look like another tough out in a short playoff series. The shame of it all is that Pittsburgh will most likely be in the one-game Wild Card Playoff, where anything can happen, so we may not get a chance see those Pirate pitchers in action in a best-of seven series if they fall short like they did vs. the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card last year.
The main delivery man of all that gas in Pittsburgh is ace and Cy Young Award candidate Gerrit Cole, who averages 95.5 MPH on his regular fastball and 94.4 on his two-seamer. Is it any wonder Cole is 14-5 with a 2.29 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 138 strikeouts vs. 29 walks in 137.1 innings this season as of this writing? And do not forget about Francisco Liriano from the left side, who is one of the hardest throwing southpaws in the league averaging 92.3 on his straight fastball and 92.4 on his two-seam fastball. Jeff Locke may or may not be in the post-season rotation, but he is another southpaw that averages 92.4 on his fastball, while his two-seamer drops to “only” 91.1.
Washington Nationals (NL +500, WS +950): The Nationals were the favorites to win the World Series this year before it began with five starting pitchers that would be frontline starters on most other rotations, including basically three co-aces in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Washington has not dominated as much as expected and it has now dropped behind the Mets in the National League East as of this writing, and it has not helped that Strasburg has been on the Disabled List for about six weeks. He is expected to be activated from the DL within a few days however, so Washington should be all set for its stretch run.
The Nationals have four starters that average in excess of 92 MPH, with the currently disabled Strasburg leading the way at 95.1 with his regular fastball and 95.2 with his two-seamer. Next in line is one of the favorites to win the Cy Young in Scherzer, who leads the Major Leagues in WAR at 5.2 thanks to continually blowing batters away with his 93.7 MPH heater. And then there is Zimmermann, whose conventional fastball averages 92.9 but whose out pitch is his 93.1 MPH two-seamer. The fourth member of the Washington Gas Co. is Gio Gonzalez, another of the harder throwing southpaws in baseball at 92.3 MPH. Honorable mention goes to a young pitcher that may not make the post-season roster in Joe Ross for throwing one of the harder cut fastballs on record this year at 92.8 MPH, a touch faster than his conventional 92.6 fastball.
New York Yankees (AL +450, WS +1000): We finally have an American League team on this list, and the good news is that the Yankees are not the favorites to win the American League, so they present value as the co-third choice along with the Toronto Blue Jays behind the favored Royals and the second choice Houston Astros. And when was the last time the “mighty” Yankees were considered undervalued?
With Ivan Nova recently retuning following Tommy John surgery and averaging 93.0 MPH with his heater since his return, the Yankees have now joined Washington of the National League in have four regular starters that average at least 91.8 MPH. The hardest thrower of the bunch is Nathan Eovaldi, who does not always have the best command but whose great velocity in unquestioned. Eovaldi averages a whopping 96.2 MPH on his fastball, which is one of the best in baseball, and his average two-seam fastball of 93.1 is faster than many pitchers’ conventional fastballs. Then there is ace Michael Pineda, who is currently on the DL but should be back in plenty of time for the post-season. Pineda has three different fastball that are equally lethal, as he has a regular fastball averaging 92.2 MPH, a two-seamer even faster at 92.9 and a cutter that averages 92.2. The fourth flameballer in the rotation is Masahiro Tanaka, who averages “only’ 91.8 MPH.