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.
What didn't stand out as it was happening--maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention--but I noticed when looking at the Pitch F/X Data for the game is that Hughes really didn't throw to the inside part of the plate much, whether to lefties or two righties.
Against both left handed and right handed batters, Hughes did not want to come inside. Perhaps if he did that, he'd've been able to sneak a few more fastballs by hitters. Coming inside on guys like Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez can be a challenge, but constantly pitching them away won't do you much good, especially against a guy like Miggy who has remarkable plate coverage.
Hughes is a notorious fly ball pitcher and he usually works up in the zone with his fastball to get those fly balls. as we can see here, a good amount of his fastballs ended up a little farther down in the zone than we'd like. The ones that did get elevated were over the heart of the plate, not a good location for anyone. Hughes starts again next on Thursday in Cleveland. Let's see if this lack of up and lack of in corrects itself in the Jake.