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Phil Hughes looks for answers as he struggles with his velocity

Apr 4, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Yankees' Hughes reacts as he walks back to the dugout  during fourth inning of American League MLB baseball action against the Tigers in New York Reuters

As I noted in ATH this morning, people were talking during yesterday’s Yankees-Tigers game that Phil Hughes‘ velocity was way down. The last time this was mentioned, during spring training, some dismissed the idea as a function of uncalibrated Juggs guns or, even if the observations were accurate, as something not worth worrying about.  It now seems that, yes, the reports were accurate, and yes, it is a cause for concern.

Hughes’ fastball averaged 89.25 m.p.h. according to PitchFX. That’s which is down from the 92-94 m.p.h. fastball he was featuring at the height of his effectiveness last season.  Both Hughes — who called his velocity issue “disconcerting” — and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild were concerned about it after the game according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.

Obviously one regular season start does not justify panic in the streets and looting of local businesses, but given how the Yankees’ rotation was characterized as “Sabathia and Hughes are good, everything else is a question mark,” this is something worth watching.

  1. fdnymedic03 - Apr 4, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    It’s still early..Hughes will be fine..

  2. heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Maybe Joba the Hutt *ate* the missing velocity

  3. garryfish - Apr 4, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    It is one game, we are not like Red Sox Nation, we do not panic

  4. yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    In regards the last three comments: I had my eye on a camera at Best Buy and am disappointed in their sluggish response.
    Well, it’s early, Phil will be okay, abnd maybe a newer one with 80 MegaPixels will come in before his next start.

    • heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      Haste makes waste, “abnd” spelling mistakes…..

      And I recommend any Nikon SRL

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        I’ll raise your spelling correction with a technical rejoinder: It’s a Single Lens Reflex, SLR, or more specifically, a DSLR, and I am a Nikon fanboy.

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:24 AM

        Just making sure you actually were camera shopping my friend and not just talking out the pooper, I *was* a Minolta fan myself

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        That’s ok, I’ve got some killer Minolta Maxxum lenses that work great on my Sony a100. And, for memory lane, an old XD11.

  5. aburns77 - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Two things, one there was a similar article on here last week addressing the same exact issue and since then his velocity is up from around 87MPH to 89MPH and second Phil is coming off of the most innings by far he’s ever thrown as a pitcher. As said above it’s still early, but more importantly this is a problem Phil has had in the past, not just this year but the last several years, and in no time his velocity is back to optimal levels so i’m not too worried

  6. oldnumero7 - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Sabathia and Hughes and then we lose.

  7. pisano - Apr 4, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Organization wise, I would be more concerned with the supposed good pitching staff of Boston. They got beat up pretty good in Texas over the weekend,but no one is talking about that. Just last week this site had Boston as the best team in baseball. I think instead of worrying about Hughes velocity I’d be wondering about Boston’s pitching. The worst is yet to come, Beckett and Dice-k.

    • cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      pisan; you got that right. The Yankees at least have won games this season and one of those was with AJ pitching. Like I said about that guy; keep Posada away from him and he’ll be ok. The Bo-Sox are in for a rough season. Dice-K will be a disaster; that’s a no brainer. As to Becket, well it depends on which Beckett shows up. Maybe that spring training pop to the cranium will have helped? Saw Hughes pitching and his cutter is ok, but not great. His breaking balls are muffins and his fast ball is only fast by comparison to mine. I do think he’s got problems but I don’t know him so good. Others claim he improves as the season goes along and he damn well better because the Orioles are already at the ‘improved’ stage and the Jays (my team) have an excellent # 3 guy in Cecil (damn near won that last game). With the the Rays having bad cases of Damon-tosis, Longorio-itis, and a Craford-ectomy, the East is going to be tough for them this season. Should be interesting.

    • baseballisboring - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      Pffft. I’ll take the Sox rotation 100 times over. No one’s talking about it because it’s three friggin games in April against a really good hitting team in a really good hitter’s ballpark. The whole rotation hasn’t even had a turn yet.

      Lester’s an ace, Bucholz is a number 2, if Beckett and Lackey can be good (albeit overpaid) 3 and 4 starters, we’re set. Dice K isn’t our cornerstone player, we have Wakefield, Doubront and others to fill in the 5 slot, I think our options at the 5 spot line up pretty well with most other pitching staffs.

      Yankees? Well, CC’s an ace. Hughes is throwing 87, hmmm. AJ Burnett, flip a coin. Nova’s a 5th starter in the 4th slot, Freddy Garcia should be good for I dunno, 10-12 starts? Bartolo Colon? I just burst out laughing. Red Sox rotation alllllllll the way.

  8. BC - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    I think it’s tidal. Or sunspots maybe.
    Hey, maybe he can stick an “s” on the end of his first name?

  9. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    We ALL remember how Yankee fan kept posting during spring training that Hughes inexplicable drop in velocity was no big deal because it was just spring training after all! I think it’s that old Cubbie curse of the billygoat mojo that new Yankee pitching coach Rothschild brought along with him (being an ex-Cub), rubbing off on Hughes!!!

    And Yankee fan, how did Fatolo’s performance do for you yesterday? For those of you who haven’t had a chance to check the box score yet, Fatolo’s line read: 4 IP, 4 ER’s. You’re right Yankee fan; there’s still plenty of time left to hit the panic button, particularly with Boston’s putrid start out of the gate.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Please identify YOUR team of allegiance. Are you a Universe-hater and nothing else?

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        yankeesfan… Of course I have “my teams”… been a diehard fan of ’em all for decades now and have hung with them through thick and thin. Not sayin’ or implyin’ that you’d do this, but I’ve got no interest in opening myself up to a bunch of “get even” type rants against my teams simply because someone gets their panties all in a knot over one of my posts directed towards one of theirs, so for now I’ll have to pass on your request and continue to just lie down here under the radar in the nice cool weeds.

        For the record though, I indeed hate everything Cubbie, and that especially applies to their wine spritzer, wanna be seen making the scene yuppie crowd that now dominates crumbling Wrigley Field. I also hate anything University of Michigan football too… home of the biggest bunch of pompous, loud mouthed, a-hole fans on the planet.

        I don’t hate the Yankees, but I do hate how they continue to kiss Scott Bor-ass’ ass and warp baseball’s salary structure; ditto in that regard for the Red Sox too. IMO baseball needs to establish a salary cap as well as a salary floor. I’m not proposing socialism though; the high and low caps can be fairly liberal before a luxury tax kicks in on the high end or a penalty tax kicks in for failing to achieve the low end.

        If I had to make that call, I’d say that a cap of $175M on the high end is reasonable and a floor of $50M is reasonable. Spend more on the high end? A dollar for dollar tax for everything over the limit. Fail to spend enough on the low end? A dollar for dollar tax imposed via the loss of revenue sharing money for every dollar below the limit.

        I also hate “gasbag” fan who can’t handle any criticism of their teams (again, not inferring that you are one of them though), loves to hear themselves talk and always uses comebacks like: “you don’t know what you’re talking about”, “we (their team), spends the money because we can”, “we already have two championships in a row so a third is a no brainer”, blah, blah, blah, etc..

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:35 PM

        Thank you for that desideratum. It’s nice to see you insulate yourself from the friendly banter that goes on around here that could somehow be taken as partisan.
        If youd could come down on an important stand for something, here’s an imponderable question that has not been resolved:
        Cake or pie?

      • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:35 PM


      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        yankeesfan… trying to bait me isn’t going to work, but it’s all in good fun. The pomposity of the fans bases for the big market, big spending teams are what makes for good banter here, not the mid-market and small market teams that I have a rooting interest in.

        After all, it’s easy for say a yankee fan to kick a Royals fan and their team in the mouth, but what Yankee fan conveniently ignores is that fact that A-Roid by himself will make almost as much as the Royals will spend on their entire 25 man payroll this year. It just doesn’t make for good back and forth banter, frankly.

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:18 PM

        purdue; Len’s team affiliations have nothing to do with blind hate or inability to take a ribbing. He usually takes a taunting with class. You can never claim this for yourself. I can’t believe you have the nards to jab at him for being man enough to show his colors, be proud of his team (justifiably so), and refusing to drop to the level of banal insults, while you carry on like a fifth grader and refuse to disclose your team leanings.

        Len; All cake b4 all pie. All cheesecake b4 all other cake. All chocolate cheesecake b4 all other cheesecake. You’ve been told. Or something.

  10. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    spudchucker… Lots of Laughs! Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

    I’m am extremely passionate and connected with the teams that I root for, right down to having developed personal relationships with some of the reporters and columnists who follow the teams around. Consequently there’s just no reason for me to post anything about these teams, because there’s nothing really newsworthy that’s worth discussing.

    I’ll tell you what though… at such point in time as there may be something worth discussing, I’ll open up and put a post or two out there for all you coyote’s to chase after and chew on. Trust me though; right now it just wouldn’t be interesting to anyone outside of the immediate fan bases.

  11. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    spudchu… I’ll throw you and all of the other vultures out there a bone… I’m pulling for Butler tonight all the way, baby! I love the David vs Goliath matchups, especially when David slays Goliath. As Hunter and Mack go tonight, so go the Bulldogs. The one thing that can kill the Bulldogs is if their C (Hunter), gets into early foul trouble, and he’ll be surrounded by some tall trees out there in the paint.

    For those of you who don’t know, Butler has only about 4,100 students and plays at legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse (where the movie Hoosiers was filmed and where the Indiana high school basketball tourney finals was held for decades).

    • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:17 PM

      First off, while this is primarily a baseball site, most of us are aware of the Butler/Hoosier connection, but thanks for the anecdote. As for your analysis of the Bulldogs chances tonight, I can guarantee you one thing; Hunter will not score any points, nor will he get into any foul trouble. Primarily because no one on their roster is named Hunter. Perhaps you are referring to Howard, as in Matt. However he is a power forward, not a center. Smith is Butler’s center. I know that accuracy thing is both difficult for you and unimportant, but Dude, it is your team.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:46 PM

        spudchukar… no problemo with your post. I’ve got a lot going on today and just don’t have the time to proofread everything I post, but I would if this website as others do gave me the chance to preview and edit posts before actually posting it.

        Butler isn’t really my team; as you can probably guess, Purdue is my team and yes, they were flat out run off the floor and embarrassed by Va Commenwealth, but it is what it is and that’s the risks every team takes in a one and done tourney.

        Yes, I was referring to Hunter; excuse my malaprop. And no, I’ve never even once looked at Butler’s roster to see if Hunter was listed at a center or a power forward… as in ever. I just know that without him under the basket, given U Conn’s inside size if he gets into foul trouble tonight Butler is in trouble.

        Since I spent six and a half years going to University’s (plural), in Indiana, I know what a Butler win would mean tonight to so many rural Indiana towns and cities. It truly would be the movie Hoosier coming to life, only this time on the collegiate level.

      • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 6:18 PM

        Okay, for the last time his name is HOWARD, not HUNTER, and I did not need to consult the roster due to the fact it has been repeated numerous times throughout the tourney that he was moved to the #4 spot this season. That is code for power forward, in case you are still confused.

        So you are a Sophomore now?

        P.S. Don’t change majors to English, that possessive/plural thing can get real tricky.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        spudchucker… here’s a couple of old time tv shows for you to check out: 1) Bewitched; and 2) Sanford and Son (both are available on cable). In Bewitched, Endora (the mother in law), never gets Darren’s name right because she simply doesn’t care and everyone knows who she’s talking about.

        In Sanford and Son, Grady never gets La Mont’s name right, simply because he doesn’t care either… even when he’s talking right to him.

        Hunter, Homer, Hudson, Howard, Howser… whatever. The point is you clearly know who I’m referring to. I’ve never met the kid and don’t know his family, he’s not on one of “my teams” and up until the sweet 16 was finalized this year, I didn’t follow Butler at all. I’ve never seen a Butler game box score (because I don’t care), so how am I supposed to know that he’s listed as a #4? (answer: I wouldn’t).

        I don’t have a problem though with you grousing over my malaprop; point taken.

      • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 7:06 PM

        OK, Illiniman, I get it the accuracy thing is stressful.

        P. S. Howard started on Butler’s squad in last year’s final too.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        spudchuk… ya, I know that Butler was in the Final 4 last year as well, but at the time of last years NCAA tourney I just didn’t get to watch much of it because I was on the road where cross country travel, getting stuck taking customers to dinner and getting ready for customer presentations the following day sucked up most of my time.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        spudchuk… Regardless of the sport, having championship games that fall on a work night are a real problem more often than not for people who have to travel for a living, and it’s even tougher if you want to attend any of these events in person.

        The worst case of this is the MLB All Star game, because now baseball forces you into buying a full strip of event tickets that span multiple days, concluding always on a Tuesday night. That means for working people who aren’t locals, you have to take three days off to be able to attend in person (stuck Monday waiting for Tuesday’s night game, then a needed travel day on Wednesday to get to your next destination).

        That’s also why I missed a number of world series games last season too… just was too busy and on the road to be able to squeeze them in. Such is life!

  12. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    yankeesfan… To summarize a number of posts that I’ve put up over the past couple of weeks regarding the Yankees roster this year, I still am frankly stunned that the mighty Yankees would go into the regular season with a starting rotation that includes Phil Hughes (who I think isn’t coming clean with the Yankees medical staff as to what may be causing his alarming decline in velocity), now junk-ball fly ball pitcher Freddie Garcia ( I like Freddie as a person, but just wait until the weather gets hot and the ball starts to carry in Yankee Stadium), and a swingman in 38 year old Fatolo Colon.

    That’s just not how King George did business over the past 15 years or so. Sure there was a big dropoff after Cliff Lee signed with Philly in free agency, but King George NEVER hesitated to trade top prospects in order to fill critical holes in order to stay on top. Hank and Hal though don’t appear as if they have any interest in acquiring a higher/high priced proven veteran starter at the expense of moving one of their top minor league starters.

    Tell ya what makes sense to me though. The Yankees desperately need another veteran left handed starter (how can you deny that? How does 22 games a year against Boston with key left handed hitting Ortiz, Crawford and Gonzalez strike you?).

    I bet that if the Yankees would be willing to part with Banuelos and a couple of lesser prospects that Cashman could pry Mark Buehrle away from the White Sox. Because the White Sox will have to likely pay John Danks $10M next season, I don’t see Buehrle (who will be a free agent at the end of this season), figuring now in their plans for next year (too expensive).

    If Buerhle (who would have to waive his 5 and 10 no trade rights, but would for the right team), is traded this season, his $15M option for next season automatically vests. Buehrle’s only 32 and has a rubber arm, and as a control finesse pitcher isn’t much of an injury risk. He could be the Yankees #3 starter for years to come, so what difference would it make if Banuelos pans out or not?

    I just envision Buehrle as being the potential second coming of Whitey Ford, but I don’t think that Hank and Hal right now have the stomach to acquire that big of a contract. In addition, Buerhle would provide valuable insurance and negotiating leverage should CC decide to opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      Recall reading before spring training how the Yankees were at least looking at Buehle, and obviosly nothing transpired. His performance is good but perhaps we’re looking more at a Liriano type. I don’t understand the rationale behind complaining that Hal and Hank (!?!) are cheap and on the other hand ARod gets paid more than some small-market teams. I can live with my team being high spenders, in fact more so than many other commenters do, and Buehle’s $14/yr, plus a little extra, certainly won’t phase the check writers in Tampa if the opportunity came up.
      My request for the time being is “I knew Whitey Ford, and you, Mark Buehle, are no Whitey Ford”.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:35 PM

        yankeesfan… Ok, I’ll give you that one! WRT to Ford, you can’t compare pitchers across era’s anyways for the following reasons:

        1) There was no DH in Ford’s day, so he got the same three mulligans with the pitcher batting 9th that NL starting pitchers enjoy today every start;
        2) The pitching mound was significantly higher than it is today, clearly a bigger advantage for pitchers prior to the rule change that lowered the mounds; and
        3) There was no such thing as “specialized relievers” back in Fords day. Starting pitchers were expected to finish what they start and pitch 300 (not the current 200), innings per season.

        A more apropos comparison for Buerhle would be to Pettite. You can’t compare their stats though head to head without first taking into consideration that Buerhle pitches half his games in a true hitters park and has played on much lesser teams than Pettite has had behind him during his Yankee years.

        As for Hank and Hal? I’m just sitting back on the sidelines waiting for them to slip up because they’re cheap and then laugh as the New York media devours them and their young!

        I don’t have a problem with the Yankees payroll; my problem is with the Yankees being willing to play Bor-ass’ stupid little bidding war games. More owners/GM’s need to give Bor-ass nothing but take it or leave it offers as the Angels Moreno and the White Sox Reinsdorf now do; it would be good for baseball as a whole.

  13. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    cur68, you’ve already proven to me along with everyone else on this forum exactly what I refer to as opening myself up to pointless sophomoric taunts and posts. Your last post by the was nothing more than the 5th grade type of a taunt that you erroneously accuse me of doing. (Two thumbs down).

    Once again though, nice try at baiting me, but if/when such time as one of my teams becomes a topic posted by this website, I’ll deal with it then. Until such time though, the Yankees aren’t one of my teams and this thread happens to be about a Yankee player.

    I realize that it’s hard when you appear to be ADHD to stay on topic, but please… try a little harder, ok? This thread is about PHIL HUGHES OF THE YANKEES, not about me, teams I root for, what kind of deserts you like and/or apparently obsess about or the President’s foreign policy either.

    • cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Honestly purdue, I have no idea how your mind works. “President’s foreign policy”??? WTF? You start the whole thing after Len asks you a simple question, just like always. Lean in with the insults and sophomoric snide remarks, try to justify the crappy things you say with more insults, then snark away when someone calls you on it. YOU accuse me of ADHD? ROFL… Well, since you brought up mental illness; double your medication because your manic depression is cycling back to manic again. Good luck with this cycle, eh? Get some sun, don’t try to quit smoking, and above all, don’t hurt yourself.
      ps. Cake rules.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:25 PM

        cur68 … got any other intelligent thing that you’d like to say that’s blowing out your ass today again? Whoops! I’m bad; I have yet to see you post anything even remotely intelligent… just insults and completely stupid remarks about cakes and pies… by the way, just what color is the sky in that demented little world of yours today?

        As for Len? He’s a big boy and can take care of himself. Our exchanges I have found to be all in good fun give and take, but for God only knows what reason you feel obligated to insert yourself in the conversation when you weren’t invited in.

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        cur 68 is always welcome from my end of the conversation, even though he’s not a Yankees fan. And if he wants to tag-team with me that’s ok, you can buddy-up if you find any volunteers.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:13 PM

        yankeefan, who you choose to buddy up with is your business. unlike cur68 though, your posts are usually very solid… his are just dumb! I wouldn’t tag team with anyone though to take you two on though because in the state I live it’s illegal for an adult to fight an apparent underage teenager like cur68 unless it’s in self defense.

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        Well fellas, I don’t have the stamina for purde’s style of mindless elementary school taunting, so I’m outa here. In any case purdue don’t have friends so he’ll be alone with this and I don’t have the heart to gang up on him any more. I’ve said all I really want to say about Hughes in my reply to pisan, so Len, play careful here, kay? This guy’s problems are deep and he’s likely underdosed or off his meds altogether. Enjoy the cake.

      • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        cur68… your the forum psycho … nobody’s in your league in that regard.

        Please, do us ALL a favor and go out now and play in traffic at rush hour.

  14. spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Boilerplate, why is it I get the feeling that those “reporters and columnists” who you have developed a “personal” relationship with cringe when they catch site of you and mutter under their breath as they quickly turn their heads, “I hope he didn’t see me”.

    • purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      LOL! Fortunately you couldn’t be further off if you tried; in fact, I have been quoted by name in a number of their columns over the past 2-3 years for my contributions.

      • spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 6:10 PM

        I have no doubt that you have been “quoted by name” for your “contributions”.

  15. purdueman - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    This just in! Rumor has it that cur68 just got squashed by an 18 wheeler while playing in traffic on the freeway! Can all of us actually get that lucky? Film at 11.

  16. pisano - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    cur68, I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back to you,but thanks for your post you make sense to me. I also feel the Jays will have to be dealt with especially in their park. They seem to be getting some good young pitching and they have some pop in their bats. I’m not sure about Hughes, it’s either he has a physical problem or I’ve heard he’s working on the cutter which is thrown slower than the fastball,but time will tell.

    • cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 6:41 PM

      Hey pisano. Good thing I checked back in the off chance someone wrote something about baseball. I’ve watched Halladay’s cutter for years. It moves so much you’d swear it was a slider if it weren’t +92 mph. Comparing that to Hughes’s cutter; it’s sub 90. Barely 88 I think. And it just isn’t moving as much as it needs to. His fastball is below par (barely touched 90) and he’ll need a good one to set up that loose cutter. Grip pressure counts for a lot between those pitches (I was taught to hold the slider tighter) and he seems to be struggling with that. Either he’s aiming for control and neglecting power or he just lacks the arm strength for the needed power, I can’t tell which.
      The Yankees have a solid 1-2 with Sabbathia and Burnett (I don’t care what people say; AJ is for real. I watched him for years with the Jays. His fastball is mid 90’s and his breaking pitches were effective for setting that up. He just can’t throw that fastball more than 60% of the time; it doesn’t move enough and hitters will kill him if he does). If they can sort out Hughes, and Freddy G can junk ball his way along, the Yankees have the hitting talent to make noise till some team has a fire sale and then they can get an ace in the 3 spot. When that happens, your boys will be climbing all over the top of the division. My Jays need to establish a big early lead before that happens. Same for the O’s and the Sox. The Rays need some health then they’ll be back.

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