Kenley Jansen did something very notable last night. The accomplishment occurred on this cutter, which struck out Mark Trumbo:
Per Brooks Baseball, the cutter was thrown at 100.1MPH, the fastest pitch of Jansen’s career. He threw a 99.6MPH cutter to Miguel Cabrera last week, but as Grant Brisbee noted, the pitch was actually the most hit-able of the at-bat.
Per a different source, Daren Willman’s excellent searchable Pitch FX database, this cutter was the second fastest ever thrown in front of a Pitch FX system. The database registered the pitch at 99.3MPH. The velocity on Willman’s site is slightly lower than Brooks’ because Brooks’ measurement point is slightly closer to where the pitcher releases the ball (55 feet from the plate, Willman’s data is 50 feet) and the two sites apply slightly different offsets to account for “hot systems.”
In Willman’s database, Jansen has thrown three of the six cutters which have been clocked above 99MPH. All three of Jansen’s pitches at that velocity have occurred in the last week. The only faster cutter on record is a Daniel Webb pitch which registered at 99.5MPH last season.
In contrast to the cutter against Cabrera, the pitch to Trumbo had him badly fooled (despite missing the target by a fairly wide margin). Overall, it had about 2.5″ of horizontal movement (compared to an average of 3.3″ last season):
The pitch had about 10″ of vertical movement (just about matching last season’s average):
Horizontal movement is what visually defines the cutter, and the fact that the pitch broke a bit less than usual might be something to keep an eye on. Even so, Kenley is averaging more horizontal movement this season than last, despite the increase in velocity. During last night’s outing, Jansen missed a few spots pretty badly, but so far he’s inducing his highest whiffs/swing percentage since 2011 and he’s struck out nearly 40% of the batters he’s faced.
As Dustin found last week, we still don’t really know what the increase in velocity actually means. But at the very least, it gives us something fun to talk about on an off day.