Callis: Don’t judge Hughes on this season

Pettitte named Clutch Player of the Month
No three-peat for Staten Island

Baseball America’s Jim Callis tackles the Phil Hughes Conundrum in today’s Ask BA column. As the grumblings about Hughes’ subpar 2007 performance have grown louder, many are starting to wonder if the Hughes Hype was simply hot air.

Here is Callis’ take on the Hughes issue:

Coming into 2007, I rated Hughes as the top pitching prospect in the minors. I still am very high on him, but the bottom line is that he hasn’t shown the same quality of pitches that he did a year ago. Instead of ranging from 91-95 mph with his fastball, he’s showing just average velocity at 88-92 mph. His curveball has gone from an out pitch to just mediocre.

This just isn’t the real Phil Hughes. What we’re seeing is probably related to the severe hamstring injury he sustained in his second big league start back in May. His command hasn’t been as sharp as usual, either, though that’s typical for rookie pitchers. In 2008, when Hughes is fully healthy and better acclimated to the majors, I think we’ll see why he was so highly regarded in the minors.

Basically, Callis is echoing what we said on Thursday. It’s quite likely that Hughes is still dealing with issues from the hamstring injury. Whether it’s a question of shortening his stride because of lingering fears of a recurrence or simply arm strength and mechanical issues from the long pitching layoff, Hughes hasn’t been pitching as Hughesian levels.

Right now, I’m not concerned about Phil. I’m sure an off-season of rest will do him wonders, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn it around this month and next. A healthy and effective Phil Hughes would be a huge boost to a Yankee rotation full of question marks after Pettitte and Wang.

Pettitte named Clutch Player of the Month
No three-peat for Staten Island
  • Barry

    You said it all.

  • dan

    Is Carlos Gomez really the only person (outside of non-mainstream bloggers and commenters) that has made note of his mechanical changes? Hughes himself has said that he’s coming more over the top (dont ask me where i read this) than last year, and his start against texas showed a small decrease in velocity as well: he threw only one pitch at 94 mph, and it was well out of the strike zone.

  • Malcard89

    i trust callis, next year will be huge for hughes tho, he’s gotta perform better or the yankees will be in trouble behind their top 2 starters, and unfortunately (or not, maybe this gives him more motivation), he also has to outperform Joba to show why he was the better prospect in the first place. do you think they’ll keep him on a 180 inning limit in 2008 like they were supposed to this year?

    • zack

      Why does he have to outperform Joba? What does it matter if he is a better prospect or not. They are very different pitchers with different histories. Joba will have to go through what Hughes is going through this year, that is, that being a ML starter ain’t easy, and certainly is a lot harder than coming in every 2-3 days for an inning…

      • Malcard89

        i dont mean he has to outperform joba in our eyes, just in the media’s eyes. i referred to taht as him having that pressure on him. for example, when randy johnson came to NY, he was expected to be New York’s Curt Schilling and lead us to a ring. those expectations definitely weigh on a player’s mind.

  • JRVJ

    Long term, I think Hughes will actually benefit from not having been lights out in his second MLB stint this year.

    By not being as good as advertised, Phil will be hungrier and probably will have a better idea of how to pitch to MLB hitters (versus throwing to them), than if he’d just been lights out from the word go.

  • yankeefan

    phil is god

  • Mike A.

    Phil Hughes’ last 5 starts: 27.2 IP, 26 H, 20 R, 18 ER, 14 BB, 24 K

    Dice-K’s last 5 starts : 26.1 IP, 32 H, 28 R, 28 ER, 14 BB, 20 K

    I think that about sums it up right there.

  • Ricochet

    I have no worries long term that Hughes will be great I think it’s a mixture of things why he’s not been the player that we saw in his 2nd start.

    I think he’s healthy but being healthy is only half the battle because after an injury like his or ones much worse is the mental part of it. I believe that he doesn’t completely trust his hammy and he’s not getting the push he should and was before and that gets your mechanics slightly off which causes less control as well as having less MPH because the push-off isn’t as explosive.

    Another reason is that the Yankees are being overprotective and babying these kids and they’re not building up there arm strength.

  • Wordekemper = Wizard

    Hughes is going to be awesome. I have no doubt.
    Question about Pettitte: Many just assume he will be back next year and I hope he will. Has he said something to indicate that he would? All the discussion about Mo, Po, and A-Rod is key, but what about A-Pet? And what level of importance do you think he has relative to the others?

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    I think the Yankee season hinges on Hughes. I am not counting on much from either Clemens or Mussina the rest of the way, and I don’t think Andy and Wang can carry the starting pitching load alone.

  • deadrody

    When was the last time a player had the kind of season Pettitte is having and DIDN’T pick up his player option worth $16 Mil ?

    • steve (a different one)

      not sure what you mean. he is having such a good season and the starting pitching market is so thin, that were he to decline his option he could go out on the market and get MORE than $16M. easily.

      he has a ton of leverage after the season and he could also ask the Yankees to tack another year onto his deal at another $16M. they would probably do it too.

  • dan

    fuckin magglio

    • Ben K.

      Any team that replaces Roy Halladay with Casey Janssen with two outs in the 9th deserves to lose.