Thoughts on Phil Hughes

Tampa Yanks looking solid
This is why you don't propose at a ballgame

My thoughts after seeing the kid in action:

  • Curve just wasn’t cooperating, fastball command came and went, changeup was good but not thrown enough. I don’t want to make excuses for him, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say he was a tad nervous pitching in front of friends & family.
  • Way to many first pitch curveballs early in the game. Dunno what that was all about, but I’m guessin’ it had to do with Jorge’s gameplan.
  • The stadium gun had Hughes sitting at 88-90 with his fastball, with two or three 91’s mixed in. The same gun had Dustin Moseley at 92-94 with one 96 (!). I have a hard time believing any of that.
  • Kid’s got a great delivery, I’m a big fan of a pitcher being able to repeat his motion, and Hughes does it extremely well.
  • Love the way he pitched Vlad, hard in on the hands. Not many young pitchers would be up to that. (FYI – all those years on the turf in Montreal must have destroyed Vlad’s knees and ankles, he’s barely mobile & will be a full-time DH by 2009 the latest)
  • The scoreboard said that Mathis was hitting .200 on the year when he ripped that double in second. I saw the ball head for the corner and muttered 3 words to myself: fuck the heck.
  • The second inning was kinda ugly, but he was pretty dominant from the 3rd through 5th, blowing a few guys away on those supposed 88 mph heaters.
  • I can’t help but laugh everytime he starts wearing down after his 80th pitch. Pitch counts, turning great arms into 5 inning pitchers since 1985!
  • His line on the year: 32.2 IP, 28 H, 14 BB, 30 K, 373 pitches/243 strikes (65.1%). Just needs to cut down on those walks a bit, and improve his pitch efficiency.
  • Phil owes me $295 for the speeding ticket I got on the way to see him pitch.

With any luck, I’ll have a similar post for Joba tomorrow.

Tampa Yanks looking solid
This is why you don't propose at a ballgame
  • Malcard89

    That was painful for all of us to watch Phil of the Future struggle unfortunately. But he’ll be fine, his 5 walks doesnt tell the story that his command was actually really good. But really, where did people come up with him throwing 92-95? Now that honestly is what you call a New-York hype machine. He threw nowhere NEAR that, including in all of his previous starts, and even more absurd is that some blogs even said he could dial it up to 96 a few times a game. Nevertheless, command like that will at least make him a #2 starter, so im not worried about him, just annoyed at the fucking lies that we were told about his fastball.

    (sry for putting this on the post below too)

  • Pettitte’s stare

    The gun on ESPN had him dailed up at 94-96 quite a bit in the first few innings. I even remember him hitting 95 on one of his walks later in the game. Of course the radar readings on ESPN might have been pumped up as well and he had zero control on where that 95 pitch was going

  • Ben K.

    $295? How fast were you going?

  • Jake T

    You cant have both Joba and Edwar on restricted schedules you make it impossible to manage the bullpen in a game like last night. Edwar should be able to go in that situation, not Henn, and i am not going to argue with pacing Joba, but you can’t have these rules for both of them. You effectively are taking two arms out of the bullpen. Im not blaming Torre for that one, it didnt seem like he had m,uch of a choice.

    On a positive note, How good is Larry Bowa for this team, i was watching a shot from Yes and saw him practicaly shit himself trying to get the umps attention when frankie had that balk in the ninth. Him and Pena have given the yankees easily the best group of secondary coaches in the majors.

  • Jake T

    Yeah, he was up at 96 a few times, but went down to low 90’s towards the end of the game. This is probably because he was throwing more two seamers as opposed to straight fastballs. I’m confused by the lack of changeups, he looked like he had the pitch going, but kept throwing the dawn curve instead. TWO CURVES TO REGGIE WILLITS. SERIOUSLEY? Also Sutcliffe doesn’t have a clue, he kept calling for less fastballs and more curves. sometimes i wonder if he even watches the game

  • ricardo

    is it just me or did anyone else realize that if joba didnt have those rules which baby him, HE most likely would have been pitching to figgins and cabrera in the seventh, and probabaly would have gotten out of it? instead, vizcaino came in and gave up 3 runs.

  • Eric Schultz

    Yup, that sucked. I feel that Edwar or Joba would have protected the lead in that inning.

  • Jake T

    see three posts above, it should at least have been edwar with vizcaino tired

  • Mike A.

    Edwar just threw 2 innings the day before, and followed that up with a cross-country flight. Yeah I guess Viz shouldn’t have been in there, but what can you do. Same deal with the ChamberLaws, they say he can’t be used so it is what it is.

    $295 for going 80 in a 65. Plus I get to spend a Saturday in traffic school!

  • Ben K.

    YES! That’s what I’ve been saying since last night. In the 7th, you need a strike out pitcher. That’s what Edwar is, and Joe had him warming at some point so he was at least available to go. But Torre’s too rigid in his bullpen use to do that.

  • Adam A

    I think most of his struggles this year are him just being a 21 year old pitching in the Big Leagues.

    It’s nothing to worry about.

    He’s good, and he’s going to be great.

  • Mike A.

    I think most of his troubles result from people have unrealistic expectations. In some ways, that near no-no may be one of the worse things that could have happened in his second pro-start.

  • Kyle

    I dont know about Hughes velocity, I watched the game on both the Angels channel as well as ESPN2, both guns had him 93-95 consistently with an occasional 96.

    The curveball was what screwed him, he wasnt feeling it last night and Jorge kept calling it. He needs to have better command and control of all his pitches if he is gonna be the ace we expect.

    As for Edwar he threw 2 innings the night before, so I think keeping him out was the right call. Vizcaino has been very good for use in the last few months so I dont have much of a problem going to him, obviously it didnt work but as they say Hindsight is 20-20

  • Zack

    Everyone, repeat after me: the Joba rules are a good thing. Without them, Joe would tear off his arm. Vizcaino said the day before his arm was hurting and Joe brings him in anyways! I’ll take Joba every three days over no Joba. Edwar doesn’t have rules, he had just pitched two innings and Torre still doesn’t trust him, IMHO.

    Phil is just learning how to pitch to major league hitters, building up arm strength, and learning the major league strike zone, which seems to be the biggest problem. And remember, he did go almost a whole season without pitching, so hes not exactly still in midseason form.

    However, not scoring off Darren Oliver with the big three up is simply inexcusable…

  • dan

    someone said the stadium had him around 90, YES also had him at like 90. i didnt watch every pitch, but the fastest i saw was 92, and he was consistantly 89-91. with regard to his mechanics…..

  • Dude

    ESPN’s gun had him consistently 94. hitting 95 and 96. realistically that means he was throwing 92, and hitting 94. his fastball wasn’t really getting hit – if he was ONLY throwing 90, then he made a lot of guys look bad with JUST 90 mph gas. he just has to get more consistent command of all his pitches, and that’s to be expected from a just-turned 21-year-old.

  • steve

    “is it just me or did anyone else realize that if joba didnt have those rules which baby him, HE most likely would have been pitching to figgins and cabrera in the seventh, and probabaly would have gotten out of it?”

    of course everyone realizes this.

    are you arguing for no restrictions?

  • DKA

    I’m not concerned about Phil Hughes at all, and feel like all we’re seeing is a guy who is going to be a fantastic pitcher for years to come.

    I think being on the same team is Joba now is a double-edged sword for Hughes. While the spotlight being more off him now is a good thing, he is being expected to be the fifth starter on a strongly contending team, while Joba is being brought along slowly because of the certainly understandable and to-be-praised “Joba Rules.” Make no mistake, though, Joba Chamberlain pitching seven innings every five days as a Yankee would be going through the same kind of growing pains Hughes is.

    Hughes got screwed by, yes, walks, but also by a Robbie Cano who wasn’t fielding his position last night, as well as Torre’s management of both Hughes and Viscaino.

  • Relaunch

    I have been saying this since last year but no one would agree with me anymore. Hughes has been babied to have the endurance of Jaret Wright.

  • Brian

    Hughes didn’t have his good stuff last night, and he gave us 6 innings of quality ball, and should’ve gotten the win.

    I’ll take that from a 21 year-old.

    A few thoughts on the pen:

    1. Edwar shouldn’t have pitched last night, he threw two innings the night before. If he had pitched, I’d be afraid that Joe was going to burn him out (see Sturtze, Tanyon and Proctor, Scott)
    2. If Joe wasn’t going to use Edwar, why the hell did he have him up and throwing in the pen? Makes no sense to me. If you aren’t going to use a guy, give him the night off. If you are going to use him, then the 7th was the time to use him.
    3. The Joba rules are a very, very good thing. You know Joe would be over-using him right now if they weren’t in place, and we’d be looking at TJ surgery for the kid a couple of years down the road.
    4. It’s funny to hear Joe say Farnsworth “pitched out of trouble” when Betemit saved his bacon with a miracle play.

  • Mike A.

    Relaunch – I’ve been bashing pitch counts for years. How can you possibly expect a guy to give you 6 or 7 quality innings each game when the most you let him throw in the minors is 5? If you don’t want to increase his workload too much from year to year, fine, but let him go deep into games then just shut him down.

  • Mike A.

    Just to add to my last comment…

    Often times when working on a pitch count, guys don’t get the opportunity to work out of jams, and that’s absolutely crucial for development. Hughes was so dominant in the minors that he very rarely faced a stressful situation, and now he’s learning on the fly in the bigs, which won’t always be pretty.

  • Mac

    $295 for 80 in a 65? And Saturday Traffic School?

    That’s freakin’ rough. California driving laws must freaking suck. My worst is 215 and 2 points for going 86 in a 65.

    As far as Hughes is concerned, I pretty much agree with whoever said that him having that no-hitter was actually one of the worst things that could happen. I think people expect a bit too much of him at present, and perhaps should wait and see what he can do over a full season, instead of judging his first handful of starts as one of the youngest pitchers in the league…

  • Zack

    At least people are sane here. Over at the NoMass board, they are talking (well, some) about how Bucholz is the better prospect because he is “further along” in his development and throws harder than Hughes. This whole velocity thing is getting ridiculous.

  • Dude

    i have no real idea if bucholz is further along, but he IS 2 years older than Hughes, so that should be expected.

    Hughes atcually has had bad luck. only Rocket has a lower WHIP among Yankee starters (and by only .01), and NO starter has a lower OPS against than Hughes. when his luck and consistent control improve, then watch out AL!

  • Marc

    I’m not saying he’s a poor pitcher or not a very talented young kid, but what i’m sayign is his stuff isn’t as electric as made out to be. his fastball on yes’s gun is almost alays around 91-92 in the first 3 frames and then 89-91 in the final 3. it simply appears that his fastball is shorter than i thought it woud be

  • zack

    I think we have differing views of electric stuff. Me? I see a precise fastball that blows hitters away, no matter the speed, and a true 12-6 curve, nasty change up that combines with the curve to make a 20 mph speed range, and an occasional super nasty slider. That to me is electric. Throwing the ball 96 mph doesn’t make it electric, ask Sean Henn…

  • Brian

    Hughes definitely needs to use the change more against lefties. That pitch dominated the Rangers in his no-hit bid, and he hardly uses it anymore.

  • ShawnT

    YOu know he did just come back from two injuries that prevented him from throwinf for 2 months, maybe thats why his velocity has been down, during the texas game he was consistantly at 95 mph, now hes from 89-92

  • C-Note

    ShawnT- my thoughts exactly, reading all this bullshit about how the yankee hype machine lied about his velocity– THE KID IS COMING OFF TWO INJURIES AND REBUILDING HIS ARM STRENGTH, fuckin enough already! His stuff does sit at 95, just not after being on the shelf for 2 months in the middle of a season

  • Malcard89

    It coulda been a lot of things going on that led to Hughes being ineffective:

    the radar gun coulda been off since everyone who saw it on espn said he was throwing 93-95, but if that were true, then papelbon throws 100 mph, and chase wright throws 93 mph, which isnt true because the gun always bumps up mph. plus the YES gun (which is where i saw it) had him at 89-92, while it has Joba (on other days) at 98-99, so it was definitely right on the mark, i dont think this was an issue.

    he’s coming back from injury. thats true too, but even in the texas start (once again on yes) he never went to 95.

    he threw a lot of two seamers. and here’s prolly where i made my biggest mistake, i completely forgot he even throws one, and thats mostly wat caused my misjudgement about his velocity.

    anyway, his command was brilliant in the middle innings as far as i saw, it was just the first and his last inning that he messed up. i just think he’ll be more of a moose-type-ace in the future rather than a schilling-type-ace (in schilling’s prime). he’ll regain some velocity after building up his arm strength, but 95 is doubtful imo. besides, as soon as the command get even more refined (which’ll be pretty insane), those few mph wont even make a difference.

  • RollingWave

    Relaunch, funny you use Jaret Wright as a comp, because Jaret Wright is one of the ultimate example of a good pitching prospect ruined because of lack of care on his use.

    Let’s not forget that this season he’s had almost no consistent work at all, both Mike Mussina and Chien Ming Wang’s early season woes had a ton to do with the fact that they pulled a hammy … Hughes not only pulled a hammy but also strained an ankel, to not take that into account is just silly.

    As for Buchholz, if he’s so “far along” i wonder why he’s in AAA while Lester continues to get rocked.

  • Carlos Gomez

    Hi all, this is Carlos Gomez, author of the Phil Hughes articles on The Hardball Times that was referenced here.

    I don’t get is the “he’s building arm strength” argument. The argument: OK, he’s been on the shelf for a while, so NOW he’s rebuilding arm strength. If that’s the case, why didn’t he sit 94 and hit the supposed 96’s and 97’s during his no-hit bid in Texas? He did have all Spring Training, and IIRC, 3 starts in the minors to “build arm strength.” How come I didn’t see a 96-97 (or even a 95) on his debut with all that adrenaline flowing.

    I checked his Texas no-hit bid start on MLB Gameday. He had his best fastball so far in the majors that day and he hit 94 twice, never reaching 95.

    His mechanics have changed and IMO, the missing MPH’s in Hughes mechanics are in his ’06 mechanics. Don’t let Contreras and Guidry fool you when they say “he’s just in spring training still.” Bullshit, they’re just covering their asses cuz they don’t know what to do, or prefer his current mechanics.

    If someone would’ve told me that Hughes is more a command pitcher than a “blow it by ’em” power pitcher, then I wouldn’t mind so much. He’s not a 93-95 guy now, not with his current mechanics. He did show better mechanics (I thought) in his last start, but I’d have to really slow-mo them to find out.

    Carlos, aka Chadbradfordwannabe