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.