NEW YORK -- 455,255 pitches had been thrown across Major League Baseball this season before anyone broke the 103-mph mark. Then Albertin Chapman did so on back-to-back heaters Saturday.Chapman routinely tops the list of hardest throwers in the Majors, and he did so again before suffocating a late rally in
NEW YORK -- 455,255 pitches had been thrown across Major League Baseball this season before anyone broke the 103-mph mark. Then Albertin Chapman did so on back-to-back heaters Saturday.
Chapman routinely tops the list of hardest throwers in the Majors, and he did so again before suffocating a late rally in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays. But then the lefty reached back and found another gear. When he does that, he pushes the limits of how hard human beings can throw a baseball.
Chapman threw 13 pitches in a scoreless ninth -- 11 of them fastballs. All 11 exceeded 100 mph, and two of the final three to his final hitter topped 103 mph. Statcast™ tracked Chapman's 0-2 fastball to Evan Longoria -- the third of four consecutive pitches Longoria fouled with the go-ahead runner on third -- at 103.5 mph, making it the hardest pitch thrown in the Majors this season. Longoria then popped Chapman's next pitch, a 102.5-mph heater, per Statcast™, for the third out of a ninth inning that might have broken a lesser pitcher. The Yankees walked off with a win in the bottom of the frame.
"That spot right there, I just wanted to go with my fastball, for good or bad," Chapman said through interpreter Marlon Abreu. "That's what I wanted to go with."
Nobody has thrown even half the number of triple-digit pitches Chapman has since Statcast™ began tracking such things in 2015, so it makes sense that he'd reach for his best pitch with the game on the line against Tampa Bays' most accomplished hitter. With two outs and a runner on third in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game, Longoria dug in against Chapman for the first time in his career.
"[Longoria] is a really good hitter," said Chapman, who threw the hardest pitch ever recorded by Statcast™, at 105.7 mph, last season. "I was just fighting until I was able to get that out."
Rays outfielder Steven Souza danced off third base, representing the potential go-ahead run, but he stood there due to very little fault of Chapman. The closer had struck out the first batter of the inning before Wilson Ramos reached on catcher's interference. Souza reached on a forceout. He reached third despite Chapman having him picked off, as Souza collided with shortstop Didi Gregorius at second, prying the ball free.
That brought up Longoria, who had stranded two runners in his previous at-bat in the seventh. Chapman started him off with a changeup for a called strike, then threw four heaters -- 102.8 mph, 103.3 mph, 103.5 mph and 102.5 mph. All featured spin rates of more than 2,526 revolutions per minute, a very high rate that usually results in more swings and misses. Chapman's previous hardest pitch thrown this year sizzled in at 102.9 mph with 2,467 rpm.
"He's throwing the ball extremely well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It looks like he's starting to get on a roll, and you want to keep that going. We know how dominating he can be."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.