MLB pitchers have found a lot of success pitching the upper part of the strike zone recently, particularly those with high-spin fastballs that get a lot of rise.
Now, these high fastballs can either be inside or outside of the strike zone.
In any case, if they are hard, up, and with enough spin efficiency to suppress the effects of gravity, they will likely earn a lot of swings and misses.
Kansas City Royals star reliever Aroldis Chapman takes advantage of some elite fastball velocity to earn some whiffs up in the zone.
He doesn’t always have excellent command of his heater, but the elite velo gives him some margin for error.
Take this pitch, for instance:
Aroldis Chapman, 103mph Elevated Fastball…and K Stare 👀 pic.twitter.com/Dsozq4E32G
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 23, 2023
The pitch was never really in the zone, way higher than it should be.
The hitter, however, decided to swing because Chapman’s four-seamer is so hard that he felt he needed to take a hack just to have a minimal chance of making contact.
It’s part of the mind games and the battle that is an at-bat.
So, yes, Chapman was somewhat helped by the batter here but he gets credit for getting him to two strikes and for throwing a 103-mph dart to end the at-bat.
Of course, you know Chapman’s confidence is there when he does that stare after the strikeout.
When he is on, he is a sensational reliever.
This year, he has a 3.06 ERA and an even better 1.87 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in 17.2 innings.
Oh, and he also has 29 strikeouts, more than some starters around the league.
He is still very, very good even after his 2022 struggles with the New York Yankees.NEXT: Royals Slugger Illustrates The Bad Luck Present In Baseball