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There are very few questions that Jeremy Guthrie will tiptoe around more than those about his velocity. But in his last two starts, Guthrie is throwing harder on a more consistent basis than we've seen from him in a couple of seasons. In holding the Minnesota Twins to two runs over seven strong innings last night, Guthrie's velocity was consistently clocked in the mid 90's on the stadium radar gun and he even hit 97 miles per hour on a couple of occasions. This comes on the heels of his first start after the All-Star break when Guthrie was clocked a couple of times at 98 miles an hour.

Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer certainly noticed the difference last night.

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"It was the hardest I've seen him throw since I faced him in the minors," said Cuddyer, who remembered facing Guthrie in 2003 when the current Twin was at Triple-A Rochester.

According to the web site www.fangraphs.com, Guthrie's fastball this season has average 92.3 miles per hour. That's almost exactly what it averaged last season. In 2007 and 2008, Guthrie's first two seasons with the Orioles, his fastball averaged 93.4 and 93.2 miles per hour respectively.

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Guthrie dealt with some mechanical issues last year that may have kept his velocity down at times, but it's not like we haven't seen him throw hard before because we have. If you recall, that pitch he threw to Alex Rodriguez last year that the Yankees slugger knocked out of the ballpark in his first at-bat since returning from the disabled list was clocked at 98 miles an hour on the stadium gun.

However, in his last two starts, Guthrie's increased fastball velocity has been a constant, a sign that perhaps the right-hander is in a good place with his mechanics and confidence, and the four-day All-Star break came at a good time for him.

Just don't ask him to explain why he has been throwing harder because not much light is going to be shed.

"A wise pitching coach once told me, 'If we can throw the same quality of pitch that we're throwing but faster, that can be more effective,'" Guthrie said.

There you have it.

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