His fastball averaged right around 90 last night. His average fastball in years past has been around 91 to 92. There's evidence that suggests pitchers throw harder as the season wears on, so being just a tick below your career average fastball this early is a good thing. For Erik Bedard, coming off shoulder surgery, it's an even better thing - because this suggests he's throwing easily and ostensibly pain free.
Watching the game, I couldn't help feel that he was getting a little squeezed, but I figured that's because A) I'm a Mariner fan and B) I've rather staked my shaky reputation on Bedard returning to form this year. Looking at Pitch F/X data, he didn't get some close calls, but he also got a couple called strikes that shouldn't have gone his way either. Overall, I can't say he got screwed, but the zone was pretty tight last night:
|image from texasleagers.com a totally rad site|
His location wasn't great, and in particular, he was leaving too many pitches up in the zone in the Rangers' wheelhouse. While the pitch f/x data isn't 100% ironclad with the pitch type, you can get a feeling for what I'm saying by looking at the results of his cut fastball:
That's a lot of meatballs and at 89.7 mph, you really can't get away with that too long vs. a very good hitting team. He only gave up 4 hits, but two of them went a really, really long way.
You'd have to expect Bedard to need a few starts to dial in that "feel" again, so I imagine you'll see more than one post about his speed and location, but here's hoping that the results improve with each outing.
But Bedard pitched well, and for the Mariners to try and compete at all this year, he's going to have to do that a lot.