Tag:Jonathan Lucroy
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 3:22 pm
 

2011 NLDS matchup: Brewers vs. Diamondbacks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Milwaukee made a splash in the winter acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum -- it was a signal to the baseball world that the Brewers were going for it in 2011 and anything short of the postseason would be a disappointment in what figures to be Prince Fielder's last season in Milwaukee. Well, the Brewers responded by winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers went to the World Series as the American League representatives. While the Brewers were picked by many to be in the playoffs, the Diamondbacks were a complete surprise. Both teams have used pitching to get here, so expect some strong pitching performances.

TEAM INFORMATION

Milwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, NL Central champions
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Team batting statistics: .261 batting average (3rd in NL), .325 on-base percentage (4th), .425 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.64 ERA (7th), 1.240 WHIP (3rd), 2.86 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: LF Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 111 RBI, 109 R, 38 2B, 6 3B, 33 SB

Arizona Diamondbacks (host games 3, 4)
94-68, NL West champions
Manager: Kirk Gibson
Team batting statistics: .250 batting average (10th in NL), .322 on-base percentage (7th), .413 slugging percentage (3rd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.80 ERA (9th), 1.286 WHIP (7th), 2.39 K/BB (7th)
Star player: RF Justin Upton -- .289/.369/.529 31 HR, 88 RBI, 105 R, 39 2B, 5 3B, 21 SB

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)  

Game 1: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 1, 2:07 p.m. ET. Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88) vs. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52)
Game 2: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 2, 4:37 p.m. ET. Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49) vs. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83)
Game 3: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 4 Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54) vs. Joe Saunders (12-12, 3.69)
Game 4: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 5* Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69) vs. TBD
Game 5: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 7* TBD vs. Gallardo
* if necessary

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Milwaukee: Jonathan Lucroy
Arizona: Miguel Montero

Hands-down Montero is the better offensive threat, hitting .282/.351/.469 with 18 homers and 86 batted in. The 27-year-old made his first All-Star team this year and while he was once thought of as an all-offense catcher, his defense has improved.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

First base
Milwaukee: Prince Fielder
Arizona: Paul Goldschmidt

The rookie Goldschmidt has come up big in some important games, but he still has 222 fewer career homers than Fielder.

Advantage: Brewers

Second base
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks
Arizona: Aaron Hill

The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays pulled off an August deal for struggling second basemen, sending Kelly Johnson north of the border and Hill going to Arizona. The change of scenery worked for Hill, who is hitting .315/.386/.492 in 33 games with the Diamondbacks. Weeks' numbers are down and he's coming off an ankle injury that limited him to 14 games since the end of July.

Advantage: Brewers

Shortstop
Milwaukee: Yuniesky Betancourt
Arizona: John McDonald

McDonald was an emergency stopgap acquired from the Blue Jays along with Hill in August, for the injured Stephen Drew. And Yuniesky Betancourt is Yuniesky Bentancourt, one of the worst all-around players in all of baseball.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Third base
Milwaukee: Casey McGehee
Arizona: Ryan Roberts

Roberts is better known for his tattoos, but he's also had a decent season for the Diamondbacks, while McGehee has had a disastrous 2011. With a .223/.280/.346 line, McGehee's OPS+ is just 69. There's pop in that bat, but it's been hard to find.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Left field
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
Arizona: Gerardo Parra

Braun is going to be one of the favorites to win the MVP, Parra is not.

Advantage: Brewers

Center field
Milwaukee: Nyjer Morgan
Arizona: Chris Young

Young is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, but has struggled a bit at the plate. Morgan is the Brewres' spark plug and resurrected his career in Milwaukee. Morgan's intangibles are huge -- and in the Brewers' favor.

Advantage: Brewers

Right field
Milwaukee: Corey Hart
Arizona: Justin Upton

Hart sometimes get lost in the shadow of Fielder and Braun, but he's had a pretty good season, as well, hitting .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers in 130 games. That said, Upton is one of the best young players in the game and will be in the top 10 of the MVP results.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Starting pitching
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf
Arizona: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

Both teams are strong at the top, but the Brewers have more depth, with Marcum starting Game 3 and Randy Wolf possibly starting Game 4. Of course, the three-man rotation could really help the Diamondbacks, allowing Kennedy and Hudson to pitch twice if needed. Greinke wanted out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs, and now he gets his shot.

Advantage: Brewers

Relief pitching
Milwaukee closer: John Axford
Arizona closer: J.J. Putz

Last season the Diamondbacks had a historically bad bullpen. This year it's one of the reasons they're in the playoffs. While Axford is the best of the three closers in this series (counting the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez), the Diamondbacks have the deeper bullpen, which only improved when Kirk Gibson decided to go with a three-man rotation and put right-hander Josh Collmenter in the bullpen, where he started the season.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Total advantage: Tie: Diamondbacks (5), Brewers (5)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Brewers in 5
Gregg Doyel: Brewers in 5
Danny Knobler: Diamondbacks in 5
Scott Miller: Brewers in 4
C. Trent Rosecrans: Brewers in 4
Matt Snyder: Brewers in 4

Trent's take: I'm still not exactly sure how the Diamondbacks wound up in the playoffs. The team has been doubted from spring training to the All-Star break and even at the start of the regular season's final month. Nobody has believed in the Diamondbacks at any point of this season. So I'm pretty sure they won't be too upset to be picked against here. Milwaukee has famously "gone for it" since last season, pulling off moves big (Greinke, Rodriguez) and small (Morgan). No pitcher likes to see Braun and Fielder back-to-back in that Brewers lineup, not even a 21-winner like Kennedy. The Brewers also have the arms in the rotation to be dangerous. I like the Brewers, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about Arizona.

More Brewers-Diamondbacks NLDS coverage

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 9:48 am
 

Pepper: Cardinals-Brewers rivalry heats up



By Matt Snyder


Last year it was the Cardinals against the Reds in the NL Central. This time around, it's the Brewers who seem to have drawn the ire of the Cardinals. Tuesday night, the Cardinals beat the Brewers to move within 2 1/2 games in the NL Central and break the Brewers' long winning streak, but everyone was talking about a pair of hit-by-pitches after the game.

In the top of the seventh inning, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito hit Albert Pujols in the hand/wrist area. It loaded the bases and was pretty clearly not intentional. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa even said as much post-game, though he also noted he still had an issue with it (via Associated Press).

"Real scary. They almost got him yesterday. There's nothing intentional about it," La Russa said. "That's what all these idiots up there -- not idiots, fans are yelling and yell. Do you know how many bones you have in the hands and the face? That's where those pitches are."

Next half-inning, La Russa left in Jason Motte to face Ryan Braun. Motte missed Braun on his first pitch, but not on his second try. He was removed after the hit-by-pitch and is the Cardinals hardest throwing reliever. Of course, La Russa says they weren't trying to hit Braun.

"And Braun, we were trying to pitch him in, too, it's just a little stinger," La Russa said (AP). "I don't want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back when we almost lose [Pujols] in several ways."

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina -- who was ejected and may have spat on the umpire -- backed up La Russa's story. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy had a different spin.

"That's clearly intentional. I mean that's ridiculous," Lucroy said (AP). "There's no way that we were trying to hit Pujols on purpose. You kidding me in that situation? If we wanted to put him on base, we would have walked him. That's ridiculous. We were trying to pitch inside and get a ground ball to third base."

For whatever it's worth, Pujols had no issues with his getting hit, saying "it's part of the game." (AP)

It's hard to not take sides here, because I don't think anyone other than Cardinals fans -- and even some of those would be excluded -- believes La Russa. It appears pretty obvious Motte was left out there to hit Braun and was going to have four chances to do it, not just the two it took. From here, each individual can make the call as to whether or not it was warranted.

Ryno moves on: After being named the Triple-A manager of the year, Ryne Sandberg was reportedly not even in the Cubs "top three or four" choices to manage the 2011 season in the bigs, but he doesn't hold a grudge. Sandberg told the Chicago Sun Times that he's moved on and looks forward, not backward. He says he still plans on making it to the majors one way or another. He's currently managing the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.

LoMo visits Fan Cave with a 'friend:' Last week, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison had a highly publicized run-in with a praying mantis in the Marlins dugout, and he later admitted via Twitter that he's afraid of bugs. Tuesday, he showed he was a good sport by visiting the MLB Fan Cave with someone dressed as a praying mantis. (MLB.com)

Hard-luck losers: Beyond the Box Score took a look at the pitchers with the most losses in MLB history that came while they still threw at least seven innings while allowing three earned runs or less. It might be easier to simply disregard the archaic wins and losses stat, but since it's still mainstream, I'm on board with things like this. You'll find Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven and Greg Maddux on the list, among other all-time greats.

Legend of Sam Fuld: Sam Fuld has been a bit of a cult hero in Tampa Bay since being traded from the Cubs this past offseason, so it was only a matter of time before a promotional poster was made. I have to say, it's pretty hilarious. A spin-off of Legends of the Fall, the Legends of the Fuld poster features Fuld, Chuck Norris and the Dos Equis guy. (TampaBay.com)

Use the Force: The Marlins won on two ninth-inning runs Tuesday night -- which came courtesy of a Justin Turner throwing error. Marlins catcher John Buck reportedly distracted the Mets' second baseman, and Buck credits his first-base coach for employing a "Jedi mind trick." Luke Skywalker would be proud. (Fish Tank)

Cody's the answer again: The 2010 Giants postseason hero was Cody Ross, a very late addition last August via the second trade deadline (using waivers). This season, the Giants were reportedly seeking a center fielder who could lead off, but Ross might again be the answer. He filled both roles Monday and Tuesday. (SFGate.com)

MVPs together again: Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton won the MVPs from their respective leagues in 2010, and they're commemorated together on a bobblehead, as Louisville Bats -- where the two were once teammates (OMGReds).

Sad road of Irabu: Robert Whiting of Slate chronicles the career of recently-deceased Hideki Irabu in an excellently written story.

Frankrupt: The dissatisfaction with Dodgers owner -- at least for now -- Frank McCourt has spawned many different money-making ventures by disgruntled fans, including T-shirts that say "Frankrupt" and a website that begs Mark Cuban to "save the Dodgers." (LA Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 29, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: May 29, 2011 1:34 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Clutch Corey



By Matt Snyder

Corey Patterson, Blue Jays. Does it get any better than a five-hit game? It does if the fifth one was a walk-off home run in the 14th inning. Patterson went 5-7 with four runs scored and the provided the big blow in the Jays' extra-innings victory over the White Sox Saturday afternoon. Granted, he may have seen a pretty fat pitch with the great Jose Bautista (are we getting used to that yet, or does it still sound weird?) standing in the on-deck circle, but Patterson still had to deliver. He did, in a big way. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are still lingering in the AL East (3 1/2 games back).

Paul Maholm, Pirates. I could have included the entire Pirates team here, as the offense pounded 10 hits and four home runs en route to a 10-0 victory over the Cubs. Here's why I didn't, though: This was the least the offense could do for Maholm. He entered the game with a respectable 3.65 ERA and was just 1-7 because he was receiving an average of 1.42 runs in support per start. Talk about your bad fortune, and because of it, people who still judge pitchers solely on wins and losses -- and there are plenty of them -- would think he sucks. Throw that 3.65 ERA in 61 2/3 innings on high-powered offensive team and Maholm's a pretty solid pitcher. For comparison's sake, Max Scherzer is 6-2 with a 3.86 ERA. Jon Lester is 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA. Anyway, when Maholm got the support Saturday in Wrigley, he made it stand up. He needed only 91 pitches to slice through the Cubs' lineup, allowing only three hits, no walks and no runs. That ERA is now all the way down to 3.18. He deserves respect, so please ignore that unfair 2-7 record.

The Brewers' walk-off win. Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth Saturday afternoon. He brought a .328 batting average, five homers, 23 RBI and had a 1.110 OPS since May 8. He entered as a pinch-hitter for fellow catcher Wil Nieves. Oh, and Lucroy had zero sacrifice bunts in 423 career plate appearances. So when Ryan Braun broke for home (from third base) and Lucroy put down a suicide squeeze bunt to win the game, it was a thing of beauty. You don't often see a walk-off suicide squeeze, and you definitely don't often see a team take a risk like the Brewers took Saturday. Say the inexperienced bunter Lucroy pops it up? Double play, inning over. What if he whiffs? Braun is dead to rights at home and now a two-out hit is needed. A sacrifice fly, base hit or fielder's choice wins the game for the Brewers, but instead they won with a suicide squeeze from a dude who never bunts. No guts, no glory.




Tony La Russa, Cardinals. After Jaime Garcia allowed six runs in the first inning and one in the second, I was ready to list him here. Then he suffered and suffered and suffered some more in the fourth inning until La Russa finally, mercifully removed his man. At the end of the outing, Garcia had thrown 106 pitches in 3 1/3 innings, having allowed 11 hits, 11 earned runs and four walks. His ERA went from 1.93 to 3.28. I'd really like to understand the rationale for a manager to just leave his best pitcher out there as he's taking a beating like that. There's no reason to tire him out when the game's out of hand -- Garcia told reporters after the game he was cooked -- and now you have to worry about confidence issues heading into the next outing. There's just no reason to leave him hung out to dry like that in his first bad outing of the season.

Sean O'Sullivan, Royals. There was so much bad about this, it's hard to know where to begin. O'Sullivan gave up a whopping 15 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 runs. He allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs in the second inning to Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Endy Chavez. He walked two yet struck out only one. The cherry on top -- via SI.com's Joe Posnanski -- is that O'Sullivan became the first pitcher this season to cough up five home runs in a single game. It has now only happened 87 times in baseball history. That's pretty rare. For some perspective, teams like the Reds, Phillies, Yankees, Cubs and Braves have played more than 15,000 games. So, yeah, rough night for O'Sullivan.

Seattle fans/security. Four times -- FOUR! -- a fan ran onto the playing surface Saturday night in Safeco Field during the Yankees-Mariners game. The third one was stark naked. What an absolute embarrassment for the four morons who think they did something cool, but even more of one for the Mariners organization. I can see how one or even two could slip past the goalie. There are lots more fans than security personnel. But after being beaten twice, you gotta pull out the big guns and start lining up employees along every single section to make sure there are no more. Not only is a field intrusion a nuisance, but it's a severe risk to the players, coaches, managers and umpires. Who knows what these people running on the field are capable of? Lock it up, Safeco Field.

As for any fans who might think it's cool and/or funny to repeat the feat? It's not. If you disagree, you are a loser in major need of a life.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Hawk steals show in Milwaukee

Miller Park Hawk
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Randy Wolf allowed just four hits over eight innings, but a hawk stole the show at Miller Park on Sunday.

With the roof closed at Miller Park, a hawk hunted another bird and was the center of attention for much of the Brewers' 4-1 victory. The hawk attacked the other bird in center field in the top of the third and then hung out around Astros right fielder Hunter Pence in the bottom half of the inning.

"Whatever that was, a pigeon, it looked scared. It looked at me like, why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here," Wolf told reporters, according to the Associated Press. 

Wolf said the bird also "buzzed my tower" during his third victory over the season. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he thought the bird was going to attack.

Astros second baseman Bill Hall was close to the bird in its third inning.

"He was on the outfield grass, hanging out. Wasn't a lot of action [in his direction] during the time he was out there," Hall said. "I don't know when he got up and flew away. Obviously, he was having a good time out there."

It was apparently a good thing neither Hall nor Pence approached the hawk.

"It's really unlikely for a bird like that to get aggressive, unless somebody was coming after him, trying to pick him up or getting to close to his nest," Heather Neldner, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee County Zoo's aviary, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "If he's just sitting there, minding his own business, it's unlikely that he would go after a random person."

And like any celebrity, the Miller Park Hawk had his own Twitter account created during the game -- @MillerParkHawk. The hawk, of course, is following Pence, @HunterPence9, on the social networking site.

After the game, Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins noted on Twitter it was indeed a hawk, and write "At least one Hawk was seen Today!" And, of course, it should be noted Hawkins was the favorite Brewer of the hawk, according to @MillerParkHawk.

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 10:38 pm
 

Three Brewers (not Greinke) on rehab trail

By Evan Brunell

ParraThe Brewers got some good news on three of their injured players as all are beginning rehabilitation assignments -- and no, none are Zack Greinke.

Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins, sidelined due to recovering from labrum surgery last August, will pitch for Class A Brevard County on Friday, while starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy will head to Double-A Thursday to begin his return from a broken finger.

Lastly, reliever Manny Parra will make an appearance on Saturday for Class A Wisconsin. Parra threw two simulated innings at Miller Park on Wednesday and came through it with flying colors. If the Brewers can get Parra back quickly, it could be a big shot in the arm. While Parra has clearly shown he can't start, he does have promise in the bullpen.

Returning from an injury to his back, Parra (pictured) is encouraged by his process.

"I’m at the point now where I don’t even think about it," he told MLB.com. "I get my treatment and do other stuff to maintain where I’m at right now, but I’m past [the injury]. I felt really good. I just have to get my endurance up. You can run all you want, but it’s not the same as throwing."

Parra is expected to toss one inning Saturday, conduct a bullpen session a few days later and then pitch two or more innings in another game. The Brewers may want to lengthen Parra out for a possible return to the rotation should Marco Estrada and Sergio Mitre flop in their auditions with the team.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: April 4, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:48 pm
 

No timetable for Hart's return

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Corey HartBrewers right fielder Corey Hart is supposed to join the team in Milwaukee today, but he isn't ready to go on a rehab assignment yet, manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"We're still trying to push things and get him to 100 percent," Roenicke said. "He still feels that if he does throw [hard], there's going to be tightness. He's got to get through it. He's not 100 percent yet. … There's no timetable. We have to get him 100 percent throwing and swinging the bat. We don't think it's that far away, maybe a couple of days, but he has to get over that."

Roenicke said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who is on the disabled list with a broken pinkie finger, will report to Double-A Huntsville to start the season and has played in minor-league games at the team's complex in Arizona.

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Officially on DL, Greinke begins throwing

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Zack GreinkeDespite officially being placed on the disabled list, Saturday was a good day for the Brewers' Zack Greinke, who played catch for the first time since he was shut down with a cracked rib.

"He said he felt great," manager Ron Roenicke told reporters, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The pain is gone."

Greinke's DL trip is retroactive to March 22, meaning he could technically come off of the DL a week into the season, but that's highly unlikely. The team won't have any kind of timetable until he gets back on the mound, and that's likely a couple of days away.

Greinke suffered the injury early in the spring playing basketball.

The team also officially put LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder) and Manny Parra (back) on the DL, also retroactive to March 22. Right fielder Corey Hart (oblique) and catcher Jonathan Lucroy (finger) will also start the season on the DL.

With Greinke on the disabled list, the Brewers are expected to break camp with four starters and decide on another starter when they need one, April 6 against the Braves.

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Posted on: September 1, 2010 12:57 am
Edited on: September 1, 2010 7:34 am
 

Chapman proves worthy of hype

Aroldis Chapman

CINCINNATI – The attention was no doubt on the FM dial of pitch speeds from Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman in his big-league debut – 98.4, 86.4, 102.5, 86.9, 100.3, 102.7, 101.4 and 98.6. But catcher Ryan Hanigan wasn’t talking about the fact Chapman threw four of his eight pitches faster than 100 mph or even that seven were for strikes.

Instead, it was the fourth pitch – the second slowest of the night – that caught his attention. It was a slider that started on the outside of the plate and ended up near the shoetops of Brewers catcher Jonathan LuCroy. Lucroy gave a soft wave at the pitch before heading back to bench having managed just a foul ball (which was in itself impressive, because he made contact with a 102.5 fastball), but had no chance when the next pitch was the slider.

"That thing … that pitch … that's a whole different ballgame," Hanigan said. "His breaking ball is what people should be talking about. His slider is absolutely ridiculous. He's got to be able to throw it for a strike and he's got to get into counts where we can call it. So getting ahead is big, but if he can throw that breaking ball for a strike … good luck. It's a hammer. I saw it in Triple-A. It's 88-to-93. It's moving about a foot and a half. That's not something that anyone wants to hit. I don't care how good you are.”

Yet, it was an afterthought on Tuesday for Chapman's debut because of the velocity.

Rumored to have hit 105 in the minors, many wanted to see what was possible in a major-league stadium on a more accurate gun and the Pitch F/X system installed in each ballpark. The 102.7 registered on Chapman’s final pitch to Craig Counsell was the prettiest girl in the school. Counsell grounded out weakly to short for the out and the 19,218 at Great American Ball Park saw exactly what they were hoping to see.

If home runs are what grabs attentions for batters, it's radar gun reading for pitchers. The triple digits had rarely – if ever – been seen in the seven-year history of Great American Ball Park, Chapman registered four triple-digit readings in his eight pitches.

The crowd chanted "we want Chapman" throughout the game, took pictures of the home team's bullpen and cheered loudly when he was shown warming up in the bottom of the seventh.

"I’'e never seen anything like it," Reds closer Francisco Cordero said.

Cordero, no soft-tosser himself, said he'd never seen 102 on a scoreboard before. "I got that," he said, "in my Ferrari."

Chapman was asked about it afterwards.

"Once in a while I'll take a look and I see it, and yeah, I'm surprised, and I'm happy when I see what it is," Chapman said through translator Tomas Vera.

GM Walt Jocketty, the man who committed $30 million to the Cuban, was asked if he was impressed by that kind of velocity.

"Absolutely," he said with a smile.

Aroldis Chapman The Reds still plan on using Chapman as a starter in the future, but for now he'll be used much like the Rays used David Price in 2008 or, if all goes well, like the Angels used Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. The addition of Chapman gave an already confident team another energy boost – and it didn't hurt that the Cardinals dropped a fourth game in a row at the same time the Reds finished up an 8-4 victory over Milwaukee to push Cincinnati’s lead to seven games in the National League Central.

"I think it's exciting for all of us, and it's very exciting for his teammates to see the electric stuff he has and the contribution he'll give this club throughout the pennant race and hopefully in the postseason," Jocketty said. "It's very exciting, I could tell by the reception he got when he went in the dugout, too."

This is just the first step – Chapman has struggled at times with command in the minor leagues and the trio of Lucroy, Counsell and Carlos Gomez is hardly Murderers' Row. But regardless of who the competition was – the number 102.7, plus seven strikes on eight pitches, bodes well.

"Big-league hitters can time fastballs, no matter how hard they throw," Hanigan said, "but with him, first of all, he's left-handed. Second of all, he's ass and elbows coming at you. He throws from a weird arm slot, it's not from over the top. It's got a little three-quarter action and he hides the ball well. The ball coming out of his hand that hard is a lot tougher than something straight because the ball's moving. It's running a little or cutting a little, which is obviously makes it that much tougher to hit."

Reds Frisbee-tosser Bronson Arroyo said he can imagine what it’s like being a fireballer at a different level than anyone else. He was once there, when he was 9. He recalled parents pushing their kids up to the plate to face him.

Since he turned 10, Arroyo’s lost some of that intimidation. He said the hard-throwers can always have a little bit of confidence when they know in the back of their mind if they’re not sharp, they can reach back for something extra.

So what’s the limit of the human body as far as velocity?

“I guess it's 105,” Arroyo said.

We haven’t seen it yet, but it seems like it may only be a matter of time.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com