Do pitchers throw faster or slower at the All-Star Game than they do during the season? It depends on the pitcher.
"I can throw everything harder, and I [gained] some serious adrenaline from this crowd," Adam Wainwright(notes) told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal after his first relief effort since the '06 World Series.
Wainwright did throw everything harder while he picked up a hold in the National League's victory. His average fastball has been 91 mph this season, and his fastest heater on his previous start was 94.8 mph. On Tuesday, he hit 96.1 miles on the gun.
Pitchers often gain velocity when they move from the rotation to the bullpen, because starting is a marathon and relieving is a sprint. And as Wainwright says of his fastball: "Out of the 'pen it seems to be a little harder."
A need for greater speed was certainly true for some of the pitchers on Tuesday, but by no means all of them. As you'll see below, I took a look at some of the game's PitchFX data on Brooks Baseball to see which pitchers deviated from their usual norms in the Midsummer Classic.
A Lot Faster Than Usual
• David Price(notes), the first pitcher of the night, threw a 99.6-mph fastball, 2.7 mph faster than his fastest pitch on his previous start.
• Jonathan Broxton(notes), the last pitcher of the night, hit 98.8 on the gun after topping out at 94.9 in his previous appearance.
• Josh Johnson(notes), the second NL pitcher, threw a 98.5-mph fastball, after only hitting 96.6 on his previous start.
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A Little Bit Faster Than Usual
• Matt Thornton(notes), the man who gave up the winning hit, touched 98.1 on Tuesday after a max of 97.9 on his previous appearance
• Phil Hughes(notes), the pitcher (right) who was credited with the loss, hit 96.2 after topping out at 95.5 in his previous Yankee appearance
• Andrew Bailey(notes) maxed out at 95.3, after hitting 94.9 on his previous start
• Justin Verlander(notes) threw a fastball 99.4 mph, but no big deal for him; he hit 99.2 on the gun in his previous start
• Brian Wilson's(notes) fastball had some good vibrations: It went up to 98.6 on Tuesday, after a max of 97.5 in his last game
• Hong-Chih Kuo(notes), one of the last men named to the squad, was up to 96 mph, after topping out at 95 on his last appearance.
• Cliff Lee(notes) was up to 92 mph, just above the 91.9 he hit in his first start as a Texas Ranger
• Rafael Soriano(notes) hit 94 on the gun after just touching 90.2 on his previous appearance, but that was aberrant, as he hit 93.9 in the game before that
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Slower than usual
• Ubaldo Jimenez(notes), the NL starter, just hit 98.1 on the gun, after throwing a 99-mph fastball on his previous start.
• Roy Halladay(notes) only hit 94.1 after hitting 95.1 in his previous start
• Jon Lester(notes) only touched 94.7, after throwing a 95.1-mph fastball in his last start
• Matt Capps(notes), the winner, only hit 95.2, after hitting 95.7 on the gun in his previous game
• Jose Valverde(notes) maxed out at 97.3, just shy of the 97.6-mph fastball he threw in his previous appearance
• Heath Bell(notes) just threw three pitches, three 93-mph fastballs, well shy of the 95.9-mph cheese he threw in his last appearance
• Andy Pettitte(notes) may have been the slowest pitcher of the night; his fastest fastball was 91.2 mph, a full tick slower than the 92.2-mph fastball he had in his last start
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All in all, a majority of pitchers saw at least a small velocity increase over their previous appearances, but there's no discernable All-Star Effect. Adam Wainwright was able to take advantage of the adrenaline and translate it not just into velocity but also results.
But not everyone was able to do the same.