An early look at velocity trends for Yankees pitchers

Ivan Nova's throwing 1.3 MPH slower than he was last season - Jim McIsaac

Most pitcher stats can be pretty fluky this early in the season, but velocity readings can provide insight into how well a pitcher has performed. A major change in a pitcher's velocity can be an early indicator of an injury or performance shift. How have the Yankees pitchers been throwing so far?

Just 11 games into the season, its still far too early to make any conclusions about performance, especially for pitchers who have only one or two games under their belts. Something that can be a little more telling, though, is fastball velocity. Unlike ERA or strikeout numbers, a pitcher can't fluke his way into throwing harder. Sure, some pitchers may not yet be at full strength in early April, which could lead to slightly slower velocities, but there's a limit to how fluky a pitcher's velocity can be -- it's not like Hiroki Kuroda can randomly average 100 MPH over a week of games. Either a guy can throw hard or he can't. So how hard have the Yankees' pitchers been throwing so far compared to last season?

Pitcher Most Frequently Thrown Pitch 2014 Velocity Change from 2013 Change from April 2013
Adam Warren Fourseam 94.4 +0.3 +1.2
Vidal Nuno Fourseam 90.5 +1.7 +0.6
Shawn Kelley Fourseam 92.7 -0.3 +0.4
Hiroki Kuroda Sinker 91.9 -0.5 +0.2
Matt Thornton Fourseam 95.0 -0.2 +0.1
Dellin Betances Fourseam 96.2 -0.6 N/A
Cesar Cabral Slider 83.6 -0.9 N/A
David Phelps Fourseam 91.5 0.0 -0.1
David Robertson Cutter 93.1 0.5 -0.1
CC Sabathia Fourseam 90.5 -1.8 -0.7
Ivan Nova Fourseam 93.0 -1.3 -1.3
Michael Pineda Fourseam 93.2 -2.1 -3.7

The gainers:

Of all Yankee pitchers, Adam Warren saw the biggest velocity bump compared to last April, adding nearly a full MPH to his four-seam fastball. Warren's looked very sharp out of the 'pen so far and is positioning himself as one of Joe Girardi's go-to arms in the late innings.

Vidal Nuno has also thrown harder this year than he did in his five appearances from last season, likely because he's worked exclusively out of the bullpen thus far. Although his velocity's improved, the results haven't followed -- his ERA currently sits at 14.54 over three appearances.

The losers:

Its been well documented that CC Sabathia's fastball's been slowing down. Both Sabathia's velocity and performance have been trending in the wrong direction for years now, and so far, 2014's been no exception. For the third year in a row CC's lost over a MPH off of his fastball. If CC's velocity doesn't bounce back, it'll be interesting to see if he re-evaluates his approach -- perhaps by relying more heavily on his newly-minted cutter.

With all the talk of Sabathia's vanishing fastball, few have noticed that Ivan Nova's throwing his fastball 1.3 MPH slower than he did last season, which might be part of the reason why he's struggled so far. Nova's velocity had been on the rise since his rookie year, so maybe he was due for some regression. Hopefully this is just a blip on the radar and Nova's able to resume sitting at 94 once the weather warms up.

Michael Pineda's fastball has lost nearly four MPH since April 2011. Pineda's dealt with with shoulder issues for the better part of two years, so a velocity loss was to be expected. Given the severity of Pineda's injury, the Yankees are probably thrilled he's even able to break 90. Still, its not out of the question that his fastball could get a little more oomph once he gets back into the swing of throwing on a regular basis.

We're only a few games into the season, so a deviation in fastball velocity might represent nothing more than a bad game or two. Or it could also be an early indicator of something more. Every MPH drop in a pitcher's fastball velocity results in about a .33 increase in ERA, so even a slight change in velocity can make a significant difference. Velocity readings are something to monitor all year long -- especially for guys like Nova and Sabathia who's success is mission-critical to the Yankees' 2014 season.

All velocity data courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Pinstripe Alley

You must be a member of Pinstripe Alley to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pinstripe Alley. You should read them.

Join Pinstripe Alley

You must be a member of Pinstripe Alley to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pinstripe Alley. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker