Although he is entrenched in the much-discussed competition for the fifth rotation spot this spring, right-hander, Phil Hughes, will continue to experiment with his changeup, in the hopes that it will become a reliable fixture in his pitch repertoire. “I’m trying to get my changeup down to where it can be a useful pitch for me,” said Hughes, after throwing 10 changeups during yesterday’s 2 2/3 inning-outing against Detroit. “It’s never going to get there if I don’t throw it,” he added. If he can master it, or at least increase its employment and effectiveness, even marginally, the changeup should be a most valuable weapon for Hughes in 2010 and beyond, particularly versus left-handed opponents.
In his short big-league career (192 2/3 innings), left-handed hitters have had some fun facing the young righty, posting a .274/.368/.450 slash line against him. The cutter that Hughes adopted last season, darting in on lefties, helps with that issue, though the change, sinking out of the zone, away and down, against lefty batters, should help him improve further. As stated by Hughes, “You get used to throwing changeups to lefties because there’s no risk in it. If you bounce it to your arm side, it’s not big deal. With a right-hander, you’ve really got to finish the pitch.” Hopefully, come the end of exhibition play, Hughes’ change will be refined to the point where it is an actual weapon for him this year.
Photo by the AP