Today’s wild thought is on Phil Hughes – who looked impressive pitching the seventh inning out of the Yankees bullpen last night.
Part of the lament about Hughes as a starting pitcher has been around the fact that he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and a curve) and that his fastball is in the lower-90′s. And, while this is enough to fool minor league batters, this requires him to have pinpoint control/command, or face an impatient and aggressive swinging team, to excel as a starter in the majors. If Hughes had a quality third pitch – that he could throw for strikes – then that would make up for his shorter fastball and enable him to have more success in the majors as a starter. However, his cutter/slider and change-up are works in progress at this moment.
This all said, it’s been proven that someone can pitch out of the bullpen, at the major league level, with just two-pitches – providing that one is exceptional and the other is enough to keep batters honest. And, as a relief pitcher, because you’re only facing a line-up once, at the max, in a game, you can get away with just having those two pitches.
And, last night, being able to gas it out – as he was only going one inning, Phil Hughes’ fastball, which is usually in the 89-93 MPH range, was in the 94-96 MPH neighborhood – which is a near exceptional fastball. If Hughes is able to throw a heater in the mid-90′s and mix in his curve, he can be a very effective relief pitcher – like a John Wetteland type (who was also a fastball/curve failed starter who was converted to closer).
In closing – that’s today’s wild thought: Should the Yankees, and Phil Hughes, now start thinking about his future in the majors…as a relief pitcher?
Granted, starters get paid a lot more than relief pitchers. Hughes knows this, I’m sure. And, it’s somewhat easier on the mind, for some, to throw as a starter and then have four days off to play around with your Wii, etc., as opposed to having to deal with the stress of being in the game, in a big spot, two or three times a week (or more). But, then again, if you’re a closer, and you’re great, in a town like New York, you can be a legend. Just go ask Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage or Mo Rivera.
What do you think? Based on what we saw last night – albeit just one game – should Phil of the Future be a member of the Yankees bullpen?