So I’m digging through the pitch-by-pitch recap ofÂ last night’sÂ game, and I noticed something: of the 7 hits Hughes gave up, only 1 came after he was ahead in the count – Frank Thomas’ single in the first, which came afterÂ Hughes had the Big Hurt down 1-2 in the count earlier in the at bat. What does that mean? Two things actually:
- He needs to do a better job of getting ahead in the count (duh, that’s prettyÂ much the key to being an effective pitcher), and
- He knows how to put guys away with 2 strikes.
Most young pitchers have trouble putting guys away with 2 strikes, often nibbling at the corners when they should be attacking the zone. Heck, some young guys don’t even haveÂ a legit put-away pitch, which often leads to their downfall. Hughes didn’t show that tendency last night, which obviously is a positive.
It looks like Hughes’ next 2 starts will be at Texas on Tuesday, then homeÂ against the Mariner’s next Saturday. The Rangers and Mariners both have lineups full of undisciplined hitters (both clubs have a team OBP of .304, tied for second worst in the bigs), and if Phil can keep up his “get ahead and finish’em off” routine, and limit how much he falls behind in the count, these next 2 starts could do wonders for his confidence. Assuming they keep him in the rotation of course…