MLB Playoffs – Which pitchers dominate the World Series
PHILADELPHIA – In the fifth inning of Game 1 of this World Series, a left-handed barrel-chested reliever named Jose Alvarado jogged out of the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, stepped onto the mound to face the middle of the Houston Astros’ lineup, and had three outs on seven pitches. The first was a pellet that took to 99.4 mph, the next another at 99. It was just an appetizer: three other pellets hit 100.6, 100.8 and 101.2 mph before Alvarado only launches his version with a step off speed, a 95 mph cut. He ended his scoreless outing with a final lead at 99.9 mph and scampered off for the bench, job done.
Teammate Brad’s hand marveling from the bullpen, not only at what Alvarado has done, but also at how triple-digit fastballs are no longer the domain of a select few. This post-season, backed by Alvarado and 13 other pitchers who broke the 100 mph threshold, the average speed increased to 95.3 mph. In the first two games of the World Series, it’s 95.6 mph, a number that was once unimaginable for Hand and David Robertsonhis veteran teammate in the Phillies bullpen.
“Me and D-Rob joked about having to have two different plates,” Hand said. “One if you throw over 95, and another a little closer if you don’t, just to make it fair.”
Welcome to Major League Baseball, 2022 style, where if you’re not pitching hard, you’re probably not pitching much at all. Gone, with few exceptions, are the nibblers and softball launchers, relics of an era when only the best fastballs kissed 90 mph, replaced by live arms that reliably throw bolts. In 2008, the first year MLB tracked all field data, pitchers threw three fastballs 100 mph or more in the playoffs. This year, there have already been 164. And with Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park postponed due to rain in Philadelphia, the teams’ rested bullpens will only add to the list.