I nearly fell out of my chair when lefty reliever Kyle Ryan’s fastball was sitting at just 86 mph at the start of the season. That’s an alarming drop of full four ticks from his 2019 average, something that even the extended layoff might not full explain. However, Ryan’s fastball velocity has been trending up ever since.
After initially throwing from 85-88 mph, he has been hammering the zone with fastballs north of 90 mph, just as he did throughout the 2019 season.
It’s possible that a few of Ryan’s cutters, which he usually throws in the mid-90’s have been classified as four-seamers and hurt his average. Though there’s been steady improvement, the lanky lefty’s yo-yoing velocity numbers might not be solely due to his performance.
The potential misclassification of his pitches could be due to his four-seam and cutter at times acting similarly in terms of movement. The minimum/maximum range of his movement on the two pitches actually overlaps slightly more this year, as you can see below.
So maybe it wasn’t actually Ryan’s four-seam that was being clocked at 86 mph, maybe it’s actually his cutter. That’s just a theory, of course, and it’s entirely possible Ryan really was easing into his fastball at the start of the season. Whatever the root cause, it appears as though Ryan’s velocity is inching back above 90 mph during the tail end of this sprint.