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Who's got the best arm on the Astros?
Easy question. It's got to be Dallas Keuchel. He was the best pitcher on the team last season.
But, Keuchel did it with smoke and mirrors. He was more Tom Glavine than Walter Johnson. Deception and control were the reasons Keuchel excelled.
What about Collin McHugh, Houston's Rookie of the Year? He had all those strikeouts, but did it more with effective velocity than a big arm.
Who had the fastest fastball on the team this year? That'd be MIke Foltynewicz, who's average fastball clocked in just above 96 mph this season. His slider averaged 87 mph, again tops on the team. Jorge De Leon is the only arm to best him on pure speed, 0.2 mph faster on two-seamers than Folty.
Velocity, though, doesn't always translate to effectiveness. Judging by raw pitch values, Tony Sipp had the best four-seam fastball on the team. Keuchel had the best two-seamer while Scott Feldman had the best cutter. McHugh added the best slider, for what it's worth.
Yet, there are problems relying on Pitch F/X classifications for pitches, which can skew those values.
Moving from the empirical to the subjective, the pitcher with the best arm in baseball may be Clayton Kershaw. He has been unbelievable for the past two seasons. He's still getting criticized for his two playoff starts against the Cardinals, despite the fact that Kershaw just gave up his first home run ever on a curveball to a lefty. That's...pretty remarkable.
Maybe what we're looking for is something akin to what Crash Davis said. Which pitcher did the Gods reach down and turn their arm into a thunderbolt when they were babies? If we had to pick one pitcher from this staff to throw one pitch with the season on the line, who would it be?
In that very specific case, I might have to take Folty. He's got it all. A wipeout slider. All the velocity on that fastball. He still didn't lead the team in swinging strike rate. That honor belongs to Tony Sipp, who whiffed batters on pitches 13 percent of the time last season. That's still seven percent less than noted flamethrower Aroldis Chapman managed this season.
No, it's got to be McHugh. With all that effective velocity, his fastball plays up. His curve plays up. His slider becomes a change-of-pace weapon. Unlike Houston's best pitcher, Keuchel, McHugh doesn't necessarily need to rely on weak contact or pitch sequencing to show his greatness.
He can snap off a curve that looks like its going to be a high fastball and fool a hitter. That's good enough for me.
Who's your choice? Who has the best arm on Houston's staff? What criteria would you judge it by?