Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris returned to the mound for the first time since April 29, and he brought his velocity back with him.
It’s been a lost season up to this point for Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris. After getting beat out for a rotation spot in spring training, Norris appeared in two games in long relief, giving up five runs in 6.1 innings while striking out nine and walking three.
He ended up starting two games and appearing out of the bullpen in one more before he was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury that required surgery. Norris is back now, and had a short but sweet start for the Tigers on Saturday against the Yankees. He exited early with a calf cramp, but at the moment that is not expected to be a serious issue.
Norris threw 68 pitches in 4.1 innings, giving up two runs on just one hit and one walk. He struck out seven. Norris was undone by a two-run home run from rookie Gleyber Torres, spoiling an otherwise excellent outing.
However, the big key with Norris is his velocity. Norris’ heater averaged over 92 miles per hour in each of his last four seasons, but was down to just 88.9 mph this season. Each of his other pitches suffered as well, with his slider (82.4) changeup (83.8) and curveball (75.8) all down over two miles per hour from his 2017 averages.
Four months on the shelf and a lengthy rehab later, Tigers fans all want an answer to the same question: Is Norris’ velocity back? Well, his first appearance was a good start.
Norris threw 25 fastballs, with an average of 90.7 miles per hour and a high of 92.1. It’s very encouraging to see his velocity up from where it was to begin the year. As he gets back into game shape, his velocity should continue to tick up.
In addition to his heater, his slider averaged 84.8, his changeup 85.8 and his curveball 76.4. So it’s pretty obvious, even after just one start, that Norris’ velocity issues are a thing of the past.
A healthy Norris is a positive note to kick off September for the Tigers. Detroit’s young pitching prospects are still a few years away from reaching the big leagues, and young starters like Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd and Norris will give the team a solid bridge until they are ready.
Plus, when the time is right, any of those three could be trade bait to acquire more young hitting as the Detroit Tigers gear up for a contention window in 2020 or so.