Twins’ Jhoan Duran threw the seventh-fastest pitch in baseball history

20 July 2023

SEATTLE — Before a day game at Oakland last weekend, Jhoan Duran said he always gets stronger in the second half of a season. He wasn’t lying.

Duran on Wednesday threw the fastest pitch in baseball this season, and seventh fastest record in the StatCast Era, a 104.8 mph four-seam fastball that Eugenio Suarez fisted to shortstop Carlo Correa for the second out in the ninth inning of a 6-3 victory over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

For the final out, and his 16th save of the season, Duran fanned Mike Ford swinging at a fastball that clocked in at a mere 104 mph.

Duran, 25, enjoys throwing hard but Wednesday’s appearance came on two days rest after he saved three stright games in Oakland. He was asked Thursday if any of his coaches have encouraged him, for the sake of his powerful right arm, not to try to throw any harder.

“No,” he said. “Everybody says, ‘Hey, when are you going to throw a hundred and five?’ ”

Hall of Fame hurlers Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller are credited with throwing the two fastest pitches in baseball history — Ryan 108.1 mph in 1974 and Feller 107.6 mph in 1946. Because the technology used to track those feats wasn’t as sophisticated as the multi-camera Hawk-Eye system now used by all MLB teams, those records are unofficial.

The official record belongs to Aroldis Chapman, a 105.8 mph inside fastball he threw in a Sept. 24, 2010, game against San Diego. Chapman, in fact, has thrown the five fastest pitches, all between 105.01 to 105.8 mph.

Duran’s 104.8 pitch is the seventh-fastest all time, tied with, you guessed it, Chapman, who did it five times according

“He’s doing things that I’ve ever witnessed before, experienced before,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I don’t know what I’m thinking; I’m just kinda watching.”

Baldelli noted that Duran doesn’t appear to be working any harder on the mound than any of the Twins’ pitchers, and therefore he isn’t concerned about the 6-foot-5, 230-pound hurler hurting himself. For reference, Chapman recorded a 103.7 mph in 2018, eight years after setting the record.

Besides, Duran on Wednesday said, “I don’t feel like I’m throwing hard; it’s natural.”

Kicking the bucket

It wasn’t necessarily the heat that got to Seattle outfielder Jerred Kelenic but Duran’s offspeed pitch, a curveball that fooled him in the ninth inning.

With runners and first and second and nobody out, Kelenic worked deep into his count against Duran, fouling off three pitches between 103 and 104 mph before he was caught looking at an 88.9 mph curveball for strike 3 on the ninth pitch.

Kelenic was so angry with himself that he, according to, kicked a water cooler and broke a bone in his left foot. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss, but it will be a while. He is hitting .252 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs in 90 games this season.

“I made a mistake. I let the emotions get the best of me there. I just feel terrible, especially for the guys,” he told reporters before Thursday’s series finale againts the Twins. “… It’s on me. It just can’t happen.”

Who’s on third?

Jorge Polanco, the Twins’ starting second baseman, was hitting .200 (3 for 17) in four games with Class AAA St. Paul through Wednesday, could be ready to return from a hamstring injury sometime next week.

That leaves the Twins in a quandary about where to put Edouard Julein, who started Thursday hitting .531 with five homers and 10 runs scored in 12 games this month. He was recalled on June 10 to play second in Polanco’s stead.

But Polanco’s rehab assignment hasn’t been altered for the possibility of sending Polanco to third base, Baldelli said. He has played just nine major league games at third, all in 2016.

“We’re trying to get this guy back and healthy and available to us at the major league level,” the manager said. “Any decisions or anything like that will obviously have to be discussed, and we would want to talk to the player. There’s a lot of things that go into that. We’re not at that point yet.”

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