Ben Joyce has arrived to the big leagues in no time and has picked up right where he left off at Tennessee. You may recall this kid lighting up the radar gun constantly during his time with the Vols.
Peep the date real quick on that video. Yes, Joyce was pitching in college last year! The Angels clearly didn't feel the need for him to be down in AA any longer and have decided to unleash the beast. I agree with their decision.
Everyone's response to seeing Joyce highlights is that he'll need Tommy John surgery in a matter of days. Well, he actually got the surgery during his sophomore year so spare me all that for now. Can you get it again? Of course, so might as well bring him up before that happens again.
Last night Joyce made the second appearance of his big league career facing 9-1-2-3 of the Houston Astros lineup. In the process of throwing his scoreless inning he went up against the likes of Jose Altuve…
and Yordan Alvarez…
GAS ME UP BABY! He destroyed them both in impressive fashion. Eye opening attacks on some of the best hitters in the game today.
Ten pitches, ten fastballs, none slower than 101.1 mph with the fastest topping out at 102.9 mph. Here's where he ranks among the Angels franchise records in terms of velocity.
Listen, everyone throws hard these days. If you're not at 95+ with your fastball you likely don't even sniff the big leagues right now, especially as a reliever. The difference with Joyce is the combination of that constant blistering velocity with his arm angle/release point. If you want to nerd out for a second I found a pretty good article showing us why Joyce's fastball is so hard to hit despite it being relatively straight out of the hand.
(source) The real calling card for the fastball is his vertical approach angle. Ben Joyce throws his heater with 14.1" IVB which is below-average vertical movement for a four-seamer. But when you pair that movement with an average release height of 5.05 ft good things tend to happen.
Ben Joyce throws his four-seam fastball with an average of pitch height of 2.39 feet which is embarrassingly low. He still has -4.2° VAA which is in the 90th percentile of all major league arms. VAA is largely determined based on pitch height which is what makes that number so ridiculously impressive.
Let’s look at this in a different way. Edwin Díaz throws from almost the exact same release at 4.98 ft vertically and 2.33 ft horizontally. Díaz gets 13.6" IVB and 13.4" HB on his fastball at 98.8 MPH. Joyce is just an upgrade on that fastball with what is essentially the same location-neutral VAA but he throws 2.5 MPH harder and with an additional three inches of arm-side movement. Edwin Díaz has been one of the best relievers in baseball for half a decade on the back of his 80-grade heater.
Pair that analysis with how he made Altuve and Yordan look up there? Yeah, this will play just fine. Certainly have to mix in that slider which he's thrown exactly one time so far in those two outings, but you can definitely do plenty well in the big leagues with that 1-2 punch. Will he avoid another arm injury from here on out? It wouldn't surprise me if the entire arm itself just detached itself from his body and came flying at the hitter down the road, but for now this kid is must watch until the Angels mess this up.