LHP Brent Suter
This may be one of the more surprising pitchers to see an increase in velocity. Brent Suter is not a hard thrower, but he is incredibly effective both on the mound and off the mound. Suter is rolling with four pitches this season, and all have seen an increase so far.
The four-seam fastball is looking at an increase of 2.5 mph up to 87.9. Now Suter has thrown only 36 four-seamers this season, but that is a noticeable increase that will be interesting to monitor throughout the year. Last season as the season went on, Suter’s four-seam month-by-month went down from 85.5 to 85.3. Still, Suter’s fastball is faster than in 2020 (but still slower than a Burnes’ changeup).
Another pitch with a massive increase is his sinker, which is right now averaging 90 mph, up from 87.1. (Caveat: he has only thrown two, but that is still impressive for someone with Suter’s track record).
His changeup is up 2.3 mph to 83.4, and his curveball is up 4.4 mph! He has thrown only seven curveballs so far, but proportionally that is up from last year as he is throwing it 10% of the time as opposed to 7.2% last year. Suter has been able to become effective with less velocity than many other pitchers, and an increase in velocity could help him to make him an even more lethal weapon coming out of the bullpen, or making the occasional spot start.
LHP Josh Hader
One of the most enjoyable things watching the Brewers is the dramatic change in velocity that occurs when Josh Hader comes in to replace Brent Suter. With Suter now becoming a flamethrower, is there going to be a less dramatic dropoff?
Hader has only pitched two innings and thrown a total of 29 pitches this season, so the sample size is smaller than the other pitchers mentioned. However, his average four-seam fastball is clocking in at 97.5 mph, and topped out at 100 mph.
Josh Hader and Brent Suter are two Brewers bullpen arms seeing a noticeable increase in velocity in 2021.
That four-seam average is up from 94.5 mph in 2020 for Hader. Oh, and his 4-seam has a 54.5% whiff % this season. Lethal.
Hader also is still working with a slider that he has thrown eight times this season. Again, small sample size on this one, and we very well could see a decline in average velocity as the year continues. But as of right now, Hader’s slider is up from 80.3 mph to 85.2. That’s nearly a 5 mph increase in his velocity!
There is no question that the Brewers need to provide run support to capitalize on these pitching performances. There may be a question if these velocity increases will continue throughout the 162-game season, and those are valid questions.
Craig Counsell is very good at maximizing pitcher usage and pulling pitchers with lower pitch counts to help preserve their arms. But right now, the Brewers pitching staff is cruising, and throwing harder.
Data via Baseball Savant