CINCINNATI — It was a fast discussion, a discussion about the proliferation of pitchers throwing 100 miles an hour fastballs.
One of them is Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias, who has quietly and almost unnoticed slipped in some 100 miles an hour pitchers. And Iglesias is no bigger than an explanation point without the period.
THAT’S WHAT THE DISCUSSION was about with Reds manager Bryan Price Sunday morning during his office koffee klatch: Is the 100 miles an hour fastball becoming so commonplace that it goes unnoticed and unappreciated?
“I don’t know where all these 100 miles an hour pitchers are coming from,” said Price. “We talk about it a lot as a staff and what it was like with Aroldis Chapman. He’d hit 100 and you’d here from the whole stadium this collective, ‘Oooooooooo.’ Then he’d it 102 and 104.
“Then suddenly it has just all fallen silent,” Price added. “It seems now that every team brings in a guy who throws 100 miles an hour. The novelty is gone.
“I don’t know where all this velocity is coming from and I don’t undertand it,” Price added. “They all train hard, they are eating better, they’re sleeping better. But if it was that easy we all would have done it. I would have loved to throw 100.”
AND IGLESIAS? “I DON’T know. It is a phenomenon and I don’t know how to explain it, how these velocities continue to grow with these pitchers. I don’t know where it comes from.”
Price said it used to be that if a high school or college pitcher hit 95 on the gun, “He was a first round draft pick. Now we get guys in the eighth round who throw 95 and 96 miles an hour.”
Throwing 100 or above, though, is not the do-all and end-all for pitchers.
“Velocity is wonderful, but it is not nearly as hard to find as it used to be,” he added. “One thing that has not transcended with the velocity is lower earned run averages. We are seeing as many home runs as we’ve ever seen at a prodigious pace.”
PRICE SHOOK HIS HEAD and brought up the case of relief pitcher Ariel Hernandez, recently returned to the minors after giving up only two runs and two hits in nine innings of work.
“He gave up two runs while he was here and both were home runs on fastballs 98 to 100 miles an hour above the belt,” he said. “Who hits that? Well, big league hitters have figured out the velocity thing.”
Price likes the velocity, but he loves control and command — he is more Greg Maddux than Randy Johnson.
“What I think we are going to find are more guys like our Tim Adleman and Zach Davies with Milwaukee, guy who can pitch. They are guys who can feather in a change-up, throw a good location fastball and bring back the glove-side sinker. That’s going to create a bigger pool of pitchers, guys who just know how to pitch. Velocity is awesome, but it is only as good as it is usable.
“Velocity is still getting hit so the ability to command it and create varying speeds and movement is the most important thing. Chapman, I think, is still the one guy who can throw a ball by hitters when they know a fastball is coming. These other guys throwing 100 don’t just throw it by hitters any more.”
IT HAS BEEN THE modus operandi for the Reds this season — a guy makes his major league debut and whether he does well or does awful he packs his bags and disappears.
That’s the case again. After a decent outing in his debut Saturday, Jackson Stephens was sent back to Class AAA Louisville Sunday morning.
Why would the Reds do that when they need a starter in five days, when Stephens would be available? It is called immediacy. They need bullpen help. So after a rookie starts a game, he is unavailable for the next few days so he is replaced with a long relief guy.
IN THIS CASE IT SIGNALS the return of Asher Wojciechowski. And Price promises fans haven’t seen the last of Jackson Stephens, who pitched five innings Saturday against the Chicago Cubs and gave up three runs, six hits, one walk and struck out eight.
And here is one that is no surprise — pitcher Brandon Finnegan has been shuffled to the 60-day disabled list, unable to return before early September. Or, more likely, he is done for the season.
THE REDS NEED A STARTER Thursday in Colorado and Price said, just as he said before the Jackson Stephens debut, “We have a pitcher in mind but we won’t share who that is until that pitcher has been informed that he will pitch that game.”
Of Stephens, Price said, “We had a good idea what we would do (option Stephens back to Louisville) going into Colorado and Arizona. Even if he had thrown a complete game and a shutout we probably would have had to do it (option him out) to go on the road with extra bullpen help.”
Stephens, though, compiled a large heap of positives to show the Reds he can pitch up here. And Price says he’ll be back.
“He is a candidate to be added to our rotation coming out of the All-Star break,” said Price. “He didn’t hurt his chances with his performance Saturday. I’ve only had glimpses of Stephens in spring training but I’ve heard a lot about him from guys in our organization — Kevin Towers, Cam Bonifay, Terry Reynolds, Jeff Graupe— guys who have seen quite a bit of him. They said this kid really know how to compete and throw strikes.
“I was optimistic he would throw the ball over the plate, but what impressed me was the two innings after the three-run third.”
Stephens gave up two home runs in the third inning to fall behind, 3-0, but retired six of the seven he faced after that.
“I felt after he gave up the first home run he got a hair cautious with his location and ended up giving up a two-run homer to Willson Contreras,” said Price. “Then the last two innings he really locked it down and that showed me more than anything.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Scooter Gennett, when a writer asked if he thought about making the All-Star team: “Well, sir, I consider it an honor that you would even asked me that question.”