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Ranking the Top 10 MLB Flamethrowers of 2014

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Ranking the Top 10 MLB Flamethrowers of 2014

Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds
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Major League pitching improves season after season, and 2014 has seen a handful of flamethrowers who are throwing harder than baseball has ever seen. Aroldis Chapman has touched 104 on the radar gun, and there are a couple other relievers who aren't too far behind him. Throwing so hard obviously makes pitchers more injury-prone, and the debate continues on whether or not such hard-throwing pitchers can have long careers.

T10. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Gerrit Cole Pittsburgh Pirates
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T10. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Gerrit Cole Pittsburgh Pirates
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Like many of his flamethrowing counterparts, Gerrit Cole has had an injury-plagued season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole has a 3.78 ERA across 85.2 innings, and he is known league-wide for his fastball velocity. Cole can and will throw in the upper-90s, making him one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in all of MLB.

T10. Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves

Jordan Walden Atlanta Braves
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T10. Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves

Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves
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Walden is the first of a talented Atlanta Braves bullpen duo to make this list, as he frequents the upper-90s with his fastball. The Atlanta reliever has a unique delivery to keep hitters off balance, as shown by his 46 strikeouts over 33 innings this season. Simply put, Walden is one of the hardest throwing relievers in the game.

9. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays

Jake McGee Tampa Bay Rays
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9. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays

Jake McGee Tampa Bay Rays
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McGee has been a revelation in the closer's role for the Rays, as the power-throwing reliever has amassed 65 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched this season. He owns a microscopic 1.44 ERA to pair with a 0.82 WHIP, making him one of baseball's 2014 pitching surprises. McGee has also exhibited excellent control of his fastball, meaning that he could remain the Rays' closer in the future.

8. Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Kelvin Herrera Kansas City Royals
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8. Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Kelvin Herrera Kansas City Royals
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Kelvin Herrera can flat-out bring it. His average fastball is 97 MPH, meaning that he has the capability to reach triple digits whenever he pleases. He's having a great year in KC, as he currently owns a 1.72 ERA in 47 innings pitched. Herrera has the potential to be a great closer, and while he's currently blocked by Greg Holland, expect to see Herrera closing for somebody at some point in his career.

7. Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins

Nathan Eovaldi Miami Marlins
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7. Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins

Nathan Eovaldi Miami Marlins
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Eovaldi isn't having a great season in Miami, but that hasn't stopped the right-handed starter from unleashing his upper-90s fastball on several occasions. Eovaldi is second to only Yordano Ventura in average fastball velocity among starters, but his 4.22 ERA keeps him from being higher in the countdown. Regardless, Eovaldi has the potential to blow each and every hitter away with his high-powered fastball.

6. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

Carlos Martinez St. Louis Cardinals
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6. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

Carlos Martinez St. Louis Cardinals
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If this was a countdown based purely on performance in 2014, Martinez would have surely been omitted. But you can't ignore the fact that his average fastball in 2014 hovered around 97 MPH, giving him the skill set to be a dominant pitcher. He's currently in Triple-A Memphis, but if he can return to his dominant form, he could make it back on St. Louis' roster. Regardless, Martinez has the potential to be dominant at any point in time.

5. Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels

Garrett Richards Los Angeles Angels
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5. Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels

Garrett Richards Los Angeles Angels
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Garrett Richards is having a career season for the Angels, and he just recorded a complete-game shutout of the rival Dodgers in the Freeway Series in Chavez Ravine on Monday night. Richards pumped 97 MPH fastballs over the plate into the seventh inning of that game, and he has unlimited potential moving forward. He might not be a household name just yet, but he has an extremely bright future.

4. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves
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4. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves
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Craig Kimbrel is one of the best closers in all of baseball, as showcased by the fact that he has a ridiculous 75 strikeouts in just 44 innings pitched. He owns a 2.05 ERA so far in the 2014 season, and he has amassed 32 saves for the struggling Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel's fastball has the potential to reach 100 MPH, and he will be a huge asset for Atlanta down the stretch in 2014.

3. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals

Yordano Ventura Kansas City Royals
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3. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals

Yordano Ventura Kansas City Royals
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Yordano Ventura is undoubtedly the hardest-throwing starter in all of baseball. The Royals' ace puts on a show each and every time he's on the mound, routinely throwing fastballs near 100 MPH. Kansas City's fears came true when Ventura was injured earlier in the year, however, and his velocity has been slightly down ever since. Hopefully he can return to form, because he has the skill set to be an elite starter for a long time.

2. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

Trevor Rosenthal St. Louis Cardinals
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2. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

Trevor Rosenthal St. Louis Cardinals
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Rosenthal is having a terrific 2014 for St. Louis, as the Cards' closer currently owns 35 saves to go along with a 3.08 ERA. He's undoubtedly one of the best closers in the game, and while his fastball, which is routinely around 97 MPH, might not be the fastest in the league, he's currently the league leader in saves. Rosenthal will help the Cardinals make a deep postseason run in 2014.

1. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds
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1. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds
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Is there even a question about who should top this countdown? Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman is the hardest-throwing closer in the league by far, as his fastball has topped out at 104 MPH (some say 105, others even say 106). Chapman has 69 strikeouts in 35.1 innings, a welcome sign for Reds fans who were worried about his injury status to begin the year. Chapman throws harder than anyone in the history of MLB.

Jacob Dennis is an MLB writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.