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.