Michael Lorenzen is one of the better athletes in Major League Baseball. The reliever has dabbled as a two-way player in the Majors – getting action in the outfield and at the plate on top of being one of the Cincinnati Reds better relievers the last few years. He’s got power at the plate. He’s got speed that matches up with almost anyone in the game. And he has thrown a baseball 100 MPH off of the mound. Athlete.

In his own words, though, with as athletic and as strong as he is, he thinks he should be getting more out of his velocity. Speaking with the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nigthengale, Michael Lorenzen said this:

I said, ‘How am I this strong, how am I this explosive, how am I this mobile and how does this guy throw as hard as me? We (he and Trevor Bauer) looked at it and he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re losing energy in a couple of ways and there is more in there that you can just pull out pretty easily.’ I’m going to make that fastball better this offseason.

For as much as you will hear “location and movement” from plenty of people, there’s a very strong correlation between velocity and strikeouts. That’s not to say location and movement don’t matter – they do. But velocity is very important. The harder a guy throws, the better the results tend to be.

In 2019 Michael Lorenzen has the best strikeout rate of his career. His 24.8% topped the mark of 23.8% that he had in 2016. His fastball velocity, however, wasn’t the best of his career. He averaged 97.28 MPH in 2019 on his 4-seam fastball and 96.61 on his 2-seam fastball. In 2017 he threw both pitches a minuscule amount harder at 97.43 and 96.73 on average.

According to the article, Michael Lorenzen thinks he can add 2-3 MPH to his fastball with correcting some of his mechanics. That would take him to the next level of relievers in terms of velocity. In 2019 he had the 16th highest velocity on average among 149 relievers in baseball with at least 50 innings pitched.

If he were to add even two ticks to his fastball, Michael Lorenzen would be the hardest thrower in baseball. That is, of course, if everyone else had the same velocity that they averaged in 2019. Only four pitchers – all relievers – averaged 98.0 MPH or higher. Felipe Vazquez led baseball at 98.5 MPH.

Obviously nothing happens until it happens. And maybe this won’t actually happen. But it’s another story worth keeping an eye on as the offseason progresses to see if this does start to work itself out as we head into the 2020 season.

19 Responses

  1. James H.

    At least hes trying to improve, and that’s all we can ask of the athletes we follow on their respective team’s. Such growth mindset, to overcome maintenance mode and treading water, is refreshing

  2. CFD3000

    This is an interesting question Doug. The key to effective pitching is repeatable, injury free mechanics. If Lorenzen can improve the efficiency of his mechanics (and gain velocity) without sacrificing repeatability, then that’s a nice upgrade. He needs to have the same motion and release point on every fastball, and for that to be indistinguishable when he changes pitches. If he can do that he goes from good to nearly unhittable. Given Lorenzen’s fitness and work ethic, I think it’s possible he can do it. But many a golfer has lost his touch in the pursuit of distance. Let’s hope Lorenzen can find more distance (pitch velocity) without that loss of touch.

    • doofus

      And he yells FOUR! Every time he throws a pitch next season.

      • vegastypo

        Or, when I used to play golf, FOURTEEN !

        Seriously, the first thing I thought of when I heard him talking about changing his mechanics is the threat of injury.

      • doofus

        Sorry KDJ! When I golf I keep score by how many balls I lose in the rough, or is it “ruff?” Minus 10 is good for 18 holes.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    This makes you think just a wee bit more that R. Iglesias could get traded this winter. It is just one more straw on that camels back.
    It is also indicative of Trevor Bauer paying dividends in the locker room. Getting Lorenzen into some of the Driveline side of things with all the new cameras the front office bought last winter. I would also imagine that Cotham has a hand in this.

  4. Sliotar

    Remember Jordan Hicks?

    The Cardinals reliever who came into 2019 with the reputation of being the hardest thrower around?

    If you take Doug’s link and alter the IP from 50 to 20….Hicks was the hardest thrower in 2019 at 101.2 MPH.

    Until…he blew his arm out and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.

    Hopefully, it all works out…but pitching arms are one of life’s Unsolved Mysteries and this doesn’t feel like a risk-free experiment for the player or the team.

    Lorenzen already averaged over 9Ks over 9 innings pitched this past season.

  5. RedNat

    I guess this rules him out for being a starter next year?

      • RedNat

        I still would like to see him to start a game . pitch 5 innings, get the win, play cf the 6th,7th and 8th and come back in for the 9th inning to get the save. lol. just try it once

      • doofus

        Lorenzen loses command too much to be a starter. I have seen this over a few seasons now.

  6. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I don’t know if I would worry about adding more speed for him. I would think 97 is plenty fast enough.

    I would worry about location more. Can he hit the spots, the targets, with each and every pitch? He does it 80% of the time? Can he make it 90% of the time? 95% of the time?

    Can he study more film on batters? Study more on what pitches he threw (like maybe should he have thrown a slider on that HW instead of a fastball)? So, I’m not talking as much about evaluating his “general form” but evaluating his “overall game performance” each game.

    I mean, Pete Rose even said himself, it doesn’t make a difference how hard the pitchers throw, the major league batters are still going to be able to get the line and timing on the pitches and still be able to hit it. But, Chris Welsh has said, “Still no better pitch than a well-located fastball.”

  7. Optimist

    All well and good, and good for him, and it may well work. Still, consider, among others, Kyle Farnsworth as the example of needing more than pure heat.

  8. Michael E

    He short arms (muscles) his pitches. If he learns to elongate his throwing motion, with a bit more twist of his upper body (back further, right shoulder pointing at the second-base man, he’ll improve velocity. Nothing crazy, just extra coil back and more zing to home.

  9. Tom

    The big question is if he “throw harder” to throw harder or are we talking about maximizing the energy transfer. Welcome to the Cotham City Reds!

  10. Big Ed

    A couple of seasons ago, Noah Syndergaard injured himself with an exercise program designed to muscle him up a bit and thereby improve his (already excellent) velocity. I am fairly confident that that is not what Lorenzen is planning to do at Driveline. I think the idea is to pinpoint and correct a couple of mechanical habits that hamper the efficiency of his delivery.

    To me, the great benefit of that is not the extra 2-3 mph when he touches peak velocity, but instead his command on the pitches at his “sitting” velocity. In other words, now he can now “sit” at 94-95 and touch 99, with better command when he is at the “sit” velocity. If he can improve this offseason and “sit” at 97, with the same command he had at 94-95, then he becomes elite.

    While I generally agree that Lorenzen’s window to be a starter has likely closed, it isn’t impossible that the improvements in mechanics will allow him to get past the command limitations that have confined him to the bullpen.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Either way, I’m still a bit questioning it. For instance, Tony Cingrani, supposedly, he had some horrible mechanics when he got up here, even though he romped in the minors. But, once up here, in trying to fix his mechanics, he got injurd and never has been the same since.

      I’ve seen this before, with some of the Olympic sport governing bodies. They have their own “elite identification system”, based on this mechanic and that mechanic. Some of those athletes, the professionals try to force mechanics onto the athletes, and that causes injuries in the athletes.

      Or, like I mentioned, with the pitching. If the mechanics are saying, “You need a higher arm angle on that pitch”, and the pitcher tries to do that, I could easily see that causing an injury in that pitcher. Because with a higher arm angle, that is the arms weakest position. If the shoulder isn’t strong enough first to achieve that arm angle consistently, that’s going to cause injury. Or, if the individual’s anatomy prevents that pitcher from ever achieving a higher arm angle (not just flexibility but structurally the pitcher can’t get his arm that high), even if the shoulder does show sufficient strength, that can cause injury, also, if the pitcher tries something that physically can’t be achieved. In this case, rather than trying to force a mechanic onto an pitcher for that individual pitch, it may be just as good for the pitcher to abandon that pitch altogether.