After his downright disastrous start last Saturday, I took a venture into the PITCHf/x realm on Monday and determined that, for whatever reason, Phil Hughes was not pitching inside to hitters. He really hadn’t shown stellar command of his 4-seamer in either of his first two starts, and the fact that he was working away and missing away made it much easier for hitters to look for a certain pitch in a certain area and tee off on it. Having done that analysis just a few days ago, I couldn’t very well sit by and let his start last night go un-analyzed. So let’s play another round of America’s newest favorite Yankee-related game, “Did Phil Hughes Pitch Inside Last Night?”
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(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
For a season that’s only two weeks and eleven games old, it’s already been an incredibly trying one for Phil Hughes. After losing a lot of ST time due to another back issue, Hughes returned to the rotation a week ago Saturday and got touched up pretty good by the Tigers. He made his second start this past Saturday, in place of Andy Pettitte after being skipped over for the top of the rotation after the rain-outs in Cleveland, and turned in an even worse performance, one of the worst outings of his career.
After picking out the flaws in Hughes’ approach in 2012, I thought he would be able to turn things around this season if he improved his fastball command and cut down on his early-count fastball usage in favor of his offspeed stuff to keep hitters off balance. Not only has he failed to do that through his first two starts of this season, he added another frustrating wrinkle to his game on Saturday when he failed to pitch inside effectively to either right or left-handed hitters.
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To be fair to him, Phil Hughes probably wasn’t 100% healthy when he suited up and took the mound for the Yankees on Saturday in Detroit. And to be honest, it wasn’t that awful of a start. One of his four runs allowed was unearned and he didn’t walk anyone; he also managed four strikeouts in as many innings, and that’s always encouraging. But on the flip side, Phil gave up eight hits in those four innings, and threw 87 pitches in the process.
On a general note, the more things change with Hughes, the more they stay the same. Despite being a veteran pitcher now, his first start of 2013 showed something we’ve seen from Hughes for his entire career: inefficiency and an inability to put hitters away once he gets the batter to two strikes. And despite relatively strong stuff, Hughes still isn’t getting a lot of swings-and-misses. He had only seven on Saturday and Detroit batters fouled off 18 of Hughes’s pitches.
Tonight, the 2013 Major League Baseball season begins, with the Texas Rangers playing the Houston Astros. The most beautiful thing about the baseball season is that it changes how I spend my leisure time. Nothing on TV tonight? They always play baseball. Can’t think of something to do after work? Call a buddy and watch some baseball. Don’t know how to spend time on a sunny afternoon? Upper deck tickets are cheap on Stub Hub and the 4 train moves fast. 162 games plus the playoffs means something to do, something to watch and something to talk about for half the year, and in terms of weather it’s the better half of the year.
After the gift of always having something entertaining to do, my second favorite thing about the baseball season is following story lines. Most Yankee fans are upset because the team enters 2013 in the weakest state that it has been in since 2008. Not only is the team not favored to win the AL East, but many believe the team will miss the playoffs. Win or lose, challenging seasons at least give fans like me more story lines to follow. When the Yankees put a juggernaut on the field and it demolishes its opponents every success was essentially scripted and only the failures make headlines. When the team is predicted to struggle, as it is this year, then new story lines will emerge, not only about failure but also about unexpected success. If the Yankees are going to make the playoffs they’re going to need to get strong performances from a number of players who are not household names, especially while household names Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson are on the DL. Here are some of the story lines I’ll be following during the first month of the season:
It has been a bumpy right for Yankee fans to start spring training. Already injured, Alex Rodriguez was implemented in another steroid scandal. Curtis Granderson was injured. Shortly after that Mark Teixeira was injured. All of this has drawn attention to an aging, potentially weak Yankee lineup. The potential lack of power in the offense may be true, but it is distracting everyone from the strength of the Yankee pitching staff.
This season the Yankees return as potent a 1-2-3 punch as they’ve had in years in CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. Sure, the latter two are old, but that’s a starting rotation you can count on. Still, it takes more than three starters to get it done in baseball. That’s why, for all the emphasis on the offense, the real secret to the 2013 season may be the performance of Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
It’s gotten overshadowed by the Mark Teixeira injury and yesterday’s report of Mo’s retirement announcement, but there’s still a pretty important injury situation happening with Phil Hughes. Last weekend Hughes ended his week-long battle with shrinkage in the pool and got back on the field to start throwing again after almost two weeks off to recover from the bulging disk in his back. He’s been on a flat ground throwing program this week, and yesterday actually threw pitches from a full windup on flat ground, but that still puts him a while away from pitching in a game. The possibility of Hughes not being ready for the start of the season was mentioned almost as soon as the bulging disk was, and if he isn’t back on the mound pitching in a game by this time next week he more than likely won’t be ready. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, as long as his back is healthy, but there are a few things that will change as a result.
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During the day (and night thanks to a certain “media personality”) Tuesday, Joba Chamberlain made some small waves with his comments about his ability to be a starting pitcher; not surprisingly, he still thinks he can start. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen for the Yankees. Joba will be a free agent after this year [...]
(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) Phil Hughes has been given a lot of different titles and descriptive identifiers in his professional career. From “can’t miss” and “surefire” to “uncertain” and “inconsistent,” he’s pretty much run the gamut of labels given to top prospects in his still short Major League career. One thing he hasn’t been called, [...]
It’s been six long and tedious major league seasons where we’ve had our hopes built up and our hearts torn out by Phil Hughes. Be it injuries, role changes, velocity declines, or just typical growing pains, Hughes has always found a way to disappoint. After 9 years with the Yankees’ system, the right-hander is still [...]