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Phil Hughes struggles again as concerns about velocity mount

Apr 15, 2011, 10:47 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

Not only hasn’t Phil Hughes‘ velocity improved since initially emerging as an issue during spring training, his fastball was slower than ever in last night’s sub par outing against the Orioles.

Hughes allowed five runs in four innings, serving up two homers and managing just one strikeout while his average fastball clocked in at a season-low 89.1 miles per hour. For comparison, Hughes’ fastball averaged 93.3 mph during the past two seasons.

Through three starts he has a 13.94 ERA and .396 opponents’ batting average with more walks than strikeouts and Ben Shpigel of the New York Times speculates that the Yankees “will almost certainly discuss whether they are best served taking advantage of the two days off next week to skip his turn in the rotation.”

In addition to the significantly decreased velocity readings, Shpigel also notes that Hughes has gotten a grand total of two swings-and-misses from the 96 fastballs he’s thrown this year. Hughes called the whole situation “baffling” and added: “I don’t even know what to say at this point.”

  1. proudlycanadian - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Hughes was pulled from the game early even though he had only thrown about 70 pitches. If he continues to throw like Phyllis rather than Phil, the Yankees would be down to only 1 reliable starter.

    • Old Gator - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      You might say that concerns about his velocity are coming faster and faster.

      • BC - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        I think he’s channelling his inner Betty White.

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        Betty White doesn’t have a very good curve either.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Girardi insists that Phil has to “work through this”, and I don’t doubt his sincerity, but there is no way with two days off next week that he’ll pitch again before Easter.
    It was Colon’s game last night, and he won it. LongRelievers”R”Us, at least for now.

  3. Professor Longnose - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    There are other ways to look at the data. I read that his fastball topped out a little higher than previously this year (although I didn’t look at the data), but then collapsed after the first two innings. Also, he had good linear weights on his secondary pitches, although his cutter was getting creamed. I’d say overall, he was noticeably less rotten than in his first two starts.

    Last year, he didn’t have any starts as early as this. I’d say give him a couple more outings before yanking him from the rotation.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Part of the problem is that he still seems to think his cutter is a good pitch. It is the pitch hitters have tattooed more than any other, but whenever he gets in trouble that is where he goes.

    The bigger problem is that his secondary stuff sucks. Last year he came out strong throwing basically all fastballs. Once the league caught on, he had nothing else to show them and he got hit quite a bit. Not that he doesn’t even have the fastball, what’s left???

    For the record, Joba still has 4 above average pitches…in the seventh inning.

    • spindervish - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      A couple of things: I actually watch a fair amount of Yankees games, but I haven’t actually seen much of Hughes…well ever, really. Anyway, my understanding of the guy when he came up was that he had a decent fastball but an out-pitch curve and a great changeup with plus command. Then, when he started working that cutter in a couple years ago or whenever it was, I heard a lot of praise for it…and I actually do seem to remember seeing it look pretty awesome a couple times.

      Now people are mocking his secondary stuff (at least around here) and you’re even suggesting his cutter sucks. I’d genuinely like to know: what is the deal? Was his secondary stuff overhyped in the minors, or has it fallen off? And are his struggles with the cutter a recent development, or perhaps a function of his decreased velocity? I mean I would think if you’ve got good movement on your cutter at 88-90, it could still be a solid pitch for you at 85-86.

      And finally: Joba has four above-average pitches?? How do you figure? Nice fastball, dirty, dirty slider, his curve is ok to my eye…but last I checked he wasn’t even throwing a changeup.

  5. proudlycanadian - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    The Yankees currently lead the AL East, but so far have only played 3 games (1 & 2) on the road. It will be interesting to see how they perform once they have a significant road trip.

  6. seeingwhatsticks - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Either he’s already injured or his mechanics are so far out of whack that he will soon be injured trying to compensate.

  7. ny6986 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I imagine his dead arm is the Mets fault too!

    • tsi4431 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:52 PM

      Agreed the Mets overused and abused him.

  8. psousa1 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Shitcan the cutter. Josh Beckett finally got that through his head and after his first game and look how he pitched agains NY. Fastball, Curve, Change. That cutter was coming in big as softball at 89 mph.

  9. banksatdixie - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    He is being sent down to AAA to work on his shit.

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