Edwin Diaz's big league debut showcased the glory of fastball velocity
Admit it: You're a velocity junky. You'll stay up all night, surfing around the deepest corners of the internet, hunting for one more grainy, vertically-shot smartphone video of a second-rate prospect touching 96 mph on a pitch that flies to the backstop.
Don't worry, the Mariners had an answer: Their No. 2 prospect, Edwin Diaz. A starter before this season, he was moved to the bullpen in Double-A last month to let the slight right-hander forget about going deep into games and instead focus on his triple-digit heat.
It worked. Before his callup, Diaz hadn't allowed an earned run since May 6 (he did allow an unearned run, though). In his last 11 2/3 Minor League innings, he struck out 16 and walked only two.
He kept that up during his debut during the Mariners' 3-1 loss to the Indians on Monday. Entering in the seventh inning, Diaz dominated. The M's newest Major Leaguer needed just 11 pitches -- 10 of them strikes -- to set the Indians down in order. That included four pitches over 100 mph, including this disappearing act of a fastball to set down Tyler Naquin.
Of course, it was a grand night for heat if you were an M's fan. Before Diaz entered, James Paxton showed off plenty of velocity himself, racking up 10 strikeouts in his second start of the season since being recalled from Triple-A last week.
The two hurlers combined for 25 pitches that Statcast™ measured at 99 mph or faster. Which is a mighty, Superman-leaping-over-tall-buildings like bound from where Paxton hovered in the past:
This is James Paxton's annual fastball velo (not including tonight), and it makes me laugh. pic.twitter.com/yBcdxZ6IPD— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 7, 2016
Given that his velocity chart looks like flexing biceps, we have to assume this was all part of Paxton's long con. Either that, or a subtle change to his arm angle:
The Mariners pitching staff entered Monday's action ranked 23rd in fastball velocity. As long as Diaz and Paxton keep getting innings, they'll be climbing that leaderboard soon.