Chicago Cubs News: Pitching staff still on the lower end in velocity

Chicago Cubs v Houston Astros
Chicago Cubs v Houston Astros / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

It has been a frustrating go for the Chicago Cubs pitching staff over the past week, and it's worth noting where key staff numbers are now. Heading into the series against the Phillies, the staff is right in the middle of the MLB pack in ERA (4.13) and K/9 (8.57) though they are at least sporting the ninth-lowest FIP (3.95) and eighth-lowest WHIP (1.23). Within all this is noting where this team stands in terms of velocity, because the way the staff is constructed now, it still lacks some of the firepower other clubs have.

Per FanGraphs, the Cubs are currently in the bottom half (23rd) in average fastball velocity at 93.5 MPH and 21st in sinker/split fastball velocity at 85.3 MPH. The two hardest throwers in terms of average fastball velocity are Nick Burdi and Julian Merryweather (97.4), who have pitched a combined 16.2 innings.

To put this into perspective, the MLB leading staff in average fastball velocity is the Rays at 95 MPH, and have five pitchers who have an average fastball of over 96 MPH vs. the Cubs two.

Of course, velocity is not always everything. A pitcher can throw 99 MPH but if it was not located with a lack of movement it can still get hit hard. Drew Smyly has been so good and does not throw hard after all. With that said, there is value in having a collection of arms that can pump the gas. We got a good look at the Astros bullpen, a top-ten team in bullpen fastball velocity, blow smoke past the Cubs hitters in the last series.

The Cubs have not been known for having a lot of high-velocity arms in recent years. Meanwhile, other teams are bringing in triple-digit flamethrowers. It would be nice for the Cubs to have a few more of them going forward, the good news is there are potential hard throwers on the way.

Burdi can bring some heat and we should see him pitch more on the MLB club, he has only pitched in one inning so far. The return of Codi Heuer, who has been rehabbing, is another potential big addition. He threw 99 MPH in his first rehab stint a few weeks ago. Later in the year, we could see prospects Ben Brown and Daniel Palencia come up, both can throw mid-upper 90s on the fastball. There is also the possibility they acquire arms from elsewhere.

As mentioned before, velocity is not everything, but it helps making missing bats easier. Especially in the late innings when having a high-powered, dominant pen is crucial in season success.

More Chicago Cubs News