• April 3rd vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 3rd, 2008 · Comments (13)

    Whew!

    Good game to win. You know, Toronto did lose two of these three games; but, they should come away from this series with the feeling that they can go toe-to-toe with the Yankees…because they really did in these first three games.

    Earlier today, I wrote:

    If I had to make a prediction for Hughes tonight, I would offer 90 to 100 pitches thrown, five to six innings pitched, and two to three earned runs allowed. And, if that happens, that’s not bad at all. I think the Yankees, their fans, the media, and Hughes would all be fine with those results.

    So, what happened? Hughes throws 87 pitches, goes six innings, and allows two earned runs. (Man, I should have played lotto today.) That’s a sweet outing from Hughes and one the Yankees would be willing to take from him – every time out.

    O.K., still, you know I have to bring up the velocity thing. Yes, for the second year in a row.

    In the first inning, the YES gun had Hughes at 91 MPH with his fastball. (For what it’s worth, Gameday had him at 90 MPH in the first.) And, through the fifth inning, I was still seeing 91 MPH on the heater for Phil. (Most of the time it was 91 MPH. Sometimes it was 90 MPH and other times it was 89 MPH. But, again, most of the time it was 91 MPH.)

    So, what happened to the theory that it was his leg that caused Hughes to lose four MPH on his fastball? He’s as healthy as a horse now, and, still, we’re seeing 91 MPH.

    Sure, some probably want to scream “It’s the slow YES gun!” Well, through the first five innings, the same YES gun had Toronto’s Dustin McGowan around 94 MPH with his fastball. And, the YES gun had Brian Bruney throwing around 95 MPH and Joba Chamberlain in the mid-to-high 90′s. If the YES gun is slow, then McGowan, Bruney and Chamberlain were all throwing 100 MPH – which I cannot believe is true.

    Now, at this point, Phil Hughes featuring a 91 MPH fastball is no big deal. With his curve, as long as he has command of the fastball, he’ll be fine – as he was this evening.

    Where this becomes an issue is the year 2018. If Hughes is throwing 91 MPH as a 21-year old, he’s not going to gain speed as he gets older. It doesn’t work that way. Give him about 2,000 big league innings and he will lose four MPH on his fastball (at the least). And, then, Phil Hughes will be a 31-year old pitcher who features a fastball that’s in the range of 89 to 87 MPH. And, that’s not good.

    Again, and I want to stress this, Phil Hughes throwing 91 MPH now is fine. There’s no issue with this fact. It does not suggest that he cannot be a great pitcher now and for the next 8 to 10 years. However, I’m offering, because Hughes is throwing “only” 91 MPH now, at age 21 and with complete health, that I believe it is doubtful Hughes will be an effective major league pitcher after he turns 30-years old.

    Hughes could end up with a Jon Matlack type career. Stellar in his 20′s, a major pitcher on winning teams, and then, after 30, not so much. Note, I said “could” – again, just because there’s no where for his velocity to go, but down, and it’s barely over 90 MPH and he’s at the age where his fastball should be at its peak.

    Comments on April 3rd vs. The Blue Jays

    1. Andrew
      April 3rd, 2008 | 10:48 pm

      Rivera was only throwing 88-91. I suppose he’s a cooked goose too?

      Can we wait till mid-season to comment definitively on velocity? Or, really, anything for that matter?

    2. Rich
      April 3rd, 2008 | 10:58 pm

      Phil has added velocity over the course of the season for his entire ML career.

    3. B
      April 3rd, 2008 | 10:59 pm

      Just a small correction, the YES gun had McGowan topping — not sitting — at 94 a couple times, with some scattered 93s in. That’s where he typically sits, going higher.

      They had him sitting mostly 92 or so.

    4. Zack
      April 3rd, 2008 | 11:09 pm

      Wow, anyone not see this coming? Yeah, didn’t think so. So predictable.

      Ok, first of all, its the first start of the season, April 3, and it was very very very cold. All of that would suggest a pitcher wouldn’t have their best velocity, especially a young one.

      Second, you write that “If Hughes is throwing 91 MPH as a 21-year old, he’s not going to gain speed as he gets older.” Well, thats just not true. A pitcher typically hits their prime at age 27. Hughes is thus 6 years away from his PRIME. A pitcher also typically gains ~2 MPH as they get into their mid 20s and fill out. Hughes will only put on strength and fill out more, so the chances of him throwing 2 extra MPH harder in 3 years are very high.

      Third, even if none of that happens, there is nothing to suggest that a pitcher who uses his legs that much to generate his power will lose much velocity at 31, but even so, that is TEN YEARS AWAY.

      Relax, chill out, stop looking for reasons to hate on Phil, and enjoy a very very good start from a Yankees pitcher when at this time last year Igawa and Pavano were pitching.

    5. baileywalk
      April 4th, 2008 | 3:46 am

      I questioned if I should even read this post or not. Hmm, maybe I should have skipped.

      First, let me just say that radar guns are BS, and the ones stadiums use are totally useless. Also, release-point readings are meaningless.

      But the gun was consistent all night. As you said, McGowan was 93-94, Bruney 95, Joba 97, etc. And Phil was 91. My reaction to that is: so what? Phil clearly has a ton of life on his fastball and people swing at it like it’s 95. Results matter — radar-gun readings don’t.

      Also, it’s amazing that it seems like just yesterday you were saying Phil might not even be a good pitcher NOW, and yet here you are worrying what he’ll look like at thirty? That he won’t have a long career? And after only his first start of the season? Can you invent any other ways to dis this kid? I guess you also think this of your crush Ian Kennedy, who throws a much less livelier 89-mph fastball. Clearly Ian will be cooked by 26.

    6. DEH1113
      April 4th, 2008 | 3:59 am

      Joba’s first night had him throwing 94, we know he can hit 100. Maybe the it’ll be a few games before Hughes hits 94.

      More impressive though was his breaking ball. At least 20 MPH was taken off his fast ball. That right there is a sign of good things to come.

    7. MJ
      April 4th, 2008 | 5:45 am

      Since I knew the velocity issue was bound to come up, I’d like to point out that Hughes hit 95mph on the YES gun in the 6th inning against one of his two final batters. I saw it with my own eyes.

    8. MJ
      April 4th, 2008 | 5:51 am

      Also, not to hijack the post but did anyone see this about Mike Hampton? I’m not defending Carl Pavano but I’d like to point out that Mike Hampton doesn’t get the same amount of shit that Pavano does, simply because he’s not a Yankee. No one remembers that Hampton might’ve signed the worst contract in baseball history (total dollars, total years, least output) but everyone nails Carl because he wears our uniform. ESPN casually neglects to insult Hampton the way he deserves to be insulted.

      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3328362

    9. TurnTwo
      April 4th, 2008 | 9:29 am

      I do believe in the 6th inning, i recall seeing the YES gun hit him at a speed around 94 or 95, because i remember being surprised to see the speed relative to where he had been sitting all game.

      for me, its not necessarily how fast he’s throwing it, but the difference in speeds from his fastball to his curve or change, the location of his fastball and ability to consistently throw the offspeed stuff for strikes, and the late movement his fastball has.

      and dont forget, he’s pitching in 40 degree weather at the beginning of April for his first start of the season. he’ll get stronger as the season progresses, and pick up another couple MPH as he stretches it out a bit.

      seems like a waste of time, and trying to purposely be picky by bringing up velocity after watching him effectively and efficiently manage that lineup thru 6 innings.

    10. Rich
      April 4th, 2008 | 10:40 am

      Since I knew the velocity issue was bound to come up, I’d like to point out that Hughes hit 95mph on the YES gun in the 6th inning against one of his two final batters. I saw it with my own eyes.
      __

      I saw that too, and if Phil was being asked to pitch one inning in relief, I’m almost sure that you would see 95 much more often, just as when Joba starts, his median velocity will be down a couple of mph as well.

    11. butchie22
      April 4th, 2008 | 10:52 am

      These games were like mock playoff games,because like it or not the Jays according to Johnny Damon and Kevin Long have the best 1-12 in the majors.Girardi did an excellent job with the bunt strategy and that put the Yankees over the top!

      I wouldn’t be too excited about Hughes YET!I do like what I see,he did a really good job of keeping the Yanks in the game.Was he the Player of Game?NO WAY!That was YES hype and 880 WCBS homerism.That might be one of the position players,because McGowan IMO more than matched Hughes he pitched a little better.also,Girardi with his strategy was the factor behind the game.If this was Torre,would we see two bunts in one inning?Let alone one game?Anyway,I need a few starts to get ready to assess Hughes because he’s so young,untested and who knows what the season will bring.This start is an auspicious debut to the season!

    12. Rich
      April 4th, 2008 | 11:21 am

      McGowan is five years older than Hughes, and is a very good pitcher, who Keith Law mentioned as a possible CYA candidate.

    13. Raf
      April 4th, 2008 | 1:15 pm

      Also, not to hijack the post but did anyone see this about Mike Hampton? I’m not defending Carl Pavano but I’d like to point out that Mike Hampton doesn’t get the same amount of shit that Pavano does, simply because he’s not a Yankee.
      —————-
      It has more to do with the person in the uniform than the uniform itself.

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