Towards the end of Spring Training, we began to hear some rumblings about a lack of velocity on Hughes’ fastball. A lot of us, including me, were inclined to write it off as much ado about nothing. After all, if it weren’t something be alarmed about, wouldn’t we have heard about it sooner? It was probably just a bad day or a bad gun. Well let me take that back; this might be a legitimate problem.
Here’s a couple of striking facts from today. Out of 90 total pitches for Hughes, 37 were cutters. The average velocity of that pitch today? 83.5 MPH! Hughes also threw 40 regular fastballs, averaging 89.25 MPH, according to Brooks Baseball. But more striking than that is the fact that Hughes didn’t record a single swinging strike with the fastball all game. Not one! In fact, Hughes only got two swinging strikes the entire game, both of which came via the cutter. To state the obvious, that’s not good!
By now you’re probably looking for a silver lining. Maybe hoping that Hughes at least had good command of his pitches? Sorry, no such luck.
As you can see, there are a lot of pitches up, and precious few in the zone. Combine that with the low fastball velocity and lack of breaking balls thrown for strikes and it’s not at all hard to see why Hughes got shelled today. Let’s hope this problem irons itself out. Soon.