• May 9th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 9th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    I gave Phil Hughes a mulligan on his last start and this is what he does the next time out?

    In the YES post-game coverage, Joe Girardi said that Hughes was “pushing” the ball and this caused his pitches to “get up” and be “flat.” And, in his post-game interview, Phil Hughes agreed – saying that his “arm slot was low” and this made him “push the ball.”

    As I understand it, when a pitcher’s arm slot drops (or is low), having the elbow on the throwing arm lower, it forces the pitcher to “arm,” “push,” or “sling” the ball instead of “throwing” it. And, when this happens, a pitcher’s fastball develops a tailing action. Basically, when his slot drops, it doesn’t allow his fingers to stay on top of the ball and acquire the appropriate backspin for a true fastball.

    For Hughes, tonight, this made his fastball more like a slider. And, a slider is basically a cutter – which Hughes does throw. So, in situations when he loses his slot, like today, Hughes goes from being a fastball/cutter/curve pitcher and becomes a (natural) slider/cutter/curve pitcher.

    The latter is an issue because Hughes is inconsistent with his curve. Plus, if his fastball acts like a slider, which is the same as a cutter, it turns Hughes into a two-pitch pitcher: Slider/Cutter and Curveball. And, with that two-pitch only attack, hitters can sit on one pitch and hack…see: Ramirez, Edwar. (Although, for Ramirez, it’s fastball/change only and not cutter/curve only.)

    Now, here comes the strange part. Last summer, Josh Kalk established that Hughes has an incredibly consistent arm slot. As he wrote then:

    …if someone tells you that Hughes doesn’t have a consistent release point, they are wrong. Because his release point is so steady, you would think that comes from a very repeatable delivery and, indeed, that is reportedly one of his best traits. In fact, you have to wonder if his release point is too consistent.

    So, what happened, all of a sudden, tonight, to make Phil lose his slot? If I had to guess, I would say it’s arm fatigue. I can remembering hearing, as far back as the 1970′s, “When a pitcher starts getting his pitches up in the zone, it’s because he’s tired and he can’t keep his elbow up in his delivery.”

    This, of course, leads to the question: Why does Hughes have arm fatigue? (If my theory is true.)

    I guess we’ll see…right? It will be interesting to see if Phil does better with this…his next time out.

    Comments on May 9th @ The Orioles

    1. yagottagotomo1
      May 9th, 2009 | 11:49 pm

      Interesting theory. Are you suggesting he is injured? Because I love Phil and think he will develop into a very good pitcher, but I dont love excuses. Problems with mechanics are the pitchers own fault and he needs to work on them.

    2. butchie22
      May 10th, 2009 | 6:21 am

      yagottagotomo1 wrote:

      Interesting theory. Are you suggesting he is injured? Because I love Phil and think he will develop into a very good pitcher, but I dont love excuses. Problems with mechanics are the pitchers own fault and he needs to work on them.

      I’m not a Phil fan after the failed Hughes/Kennedy experiment of last year he left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know what the Yankees will get with him at this point. The funny thing is there has been glimmers of brilliance from Hughes BUT very few wins.Your methodology and rationale sounds very good BUT is it mental as well? Remember that he had a vision problem…where are those glasses now? Excuses, excuses, excuses……

    3. JeremyM
      May 10th, 2009 | 9:17 am

      I thought I read he had Lasik surgery. It could be a dead arm period I suppose, but I have to agree, and I realize I’m being impatient with what is still a young pitcher, but it seems like it’s always something with this guy. Then again, it is always something with this team……

    4. Evan3457
      May 10th, 2009 | 11:21 am

      The last start, I said it wasn’t good, but it was a step forward in his development, because he battled the Sox inning by inning, and kept the game in check instead of being routed from the game.

      This game, there’s no sugar coating; a major step backwards to last season. He has to do much better than this to keep his spot in the rotations. Very disppointing job by Phil Hughes, especially coming off CC’s superb game on Friday.

    5. wmoller
      May 11th, 2009 | 6:39 pm

      For a brief graphical analysis of Hughes’ start (via brooksbaseball.net), check out http://theyankeesdollar.blogspot.com/2009/05/so-what-happened-to-phil-hughes-last.html

      It does support Girardi’s suggestion.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.