Even with a dip in velocity, the Royals flamethrower is making things work from the bullpen.
Josh Staumont is a name that is well known among both KC Royals fans and fans all around baseball. He is only in his third year at the major league level, but in 2020 he did something to get his name out there; he threw fast.
Of course, lots of bullpen arms throw fast, but Staumont was different. Holding some of the fastest pitches in Major League Baseball, fans regularly saw Staumont throw 100, 101, and even 102 mph. It often felt like it was rare to see him throw a pitch in the 90s.
Staumont used his blend of high-velocity fastball and curveball to throw off batters and strike them out at a high rate.
While things started to level out as the year progressed, Staumont still put up impressive numbers in 2020. Over his 25.2 innings pitched, he held his ERA at 2.45 and struck out 13.0 per 9. He did struggle with walks, walking 5.6 per 9, but his damage control helped him work out of those situations.
Now, in 2021, Staumont is off to another good start. He’s pitched 11.0 innings so far. His ERA is down at 0.82 and his walks per 9 have dropped so far to 3.3. There is one big difference so far, though, his strikeout percentage is down to 22% from 33% in 2020.
Of course, the sample is small, but because 2020 Staumont was known for his fast strikeouts, this could cause some concern if just simply looking at that stat.
Luckily, Staumant has made things work, even with some changes. While many of his numbers are similar to last year, he has seen a bit of an uptick on his groundballs and flyballs. This would account for some of the dip in strikeouts.
Staumont’s biggest change, though, is that he’s seen a dip in velocity. He has still touched 100-102 mph, but it’s not as consistent as it was in 2020. His fastball average is down to 97 (98 in 2020) and he’s seen a similar drop in his breaking velocity as well.
This could be due to COVID-related issues. Satumont got a slow start to spring training due to contracting COVID. He lost weight during this time and strength and endurance that he has to work to rebuild.
It’s likely this has taken away some of his consistent velocity, though if he continues to work, it won’t be out of the question for him to get it back.
What’s most impressive with Staumont, though, is that while his velocity and strikeout rate has dropped, his effectiveness for the Royals hasn’t. It’s often difficult for young pitchers to adapt quickly to a change in their pitching. Staumont, though, seems to have embraced the changes and worked to find other ways to get outs.
Whether it’s using the defense behind him, his fastball/curveball combo, or just his understanding of hitters, Staumont is finding a way to make everything work in his favor.
Josh Staumont has seen some unfortunate drops in a few stat categories in 2021, but things could change quickly. If he is able to regain his velocity and strikeout ability, he will be even more dangerous and batters should be worried.