A few years ago, when Cubs infielder Javier Baez was just breaking into the league and Aroldis Chapman was still the Reds fireballing closer, the two met for a highly anticipated plate appearance.
After all, Javy Baez was a recently promoted top young prospect with historically good bat speed and Aroldis Chapman routinely threw faster than anyone else in baseball. It was sort of a mini experiment of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Last night, a similar matchup occurred when Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly took the mound against Yankees outfielder (and MLB’s current home run leader) Aaron Judge.
After working the count to 2-2, though, Kelly was clearly feeling a little amped up, because he reached back and delivered a 102.2 MPH fastball to Judge, before striking him out on a slider that was 10 MPH slower on the very next pitch.
Check it out:
That slider was absolutely filthy in its own right, but that 102.2 MPH fastball is tied for the fastest pitch of the 2017 season … with Kelly’s previous pitch to Anthony Rizzo back in April.
According to Statcast, five of the fastest 11 pitches this season were thrown by Kelly, including, obviously, the top two overall. Chapman shows up at numbers 3 and 4 on the list, but I think it’s pretty safe to say Kelly might be MLB’s new velocity champ.