Do you think this is a case where Posada calling pitches would actually be beneficial as opposed to Cervelli? Posada is extremely hard headed, and he might force Hughes to use the offspeed stuff more, while Cervelli may be a little more deferential to the pitchers and their game plan.
Obviously, this interested me so I decided to use Phil’s gamelogs section from Baseball Reference to see who caught Phil when and then went to Brooks Baseball’s pitch f/x section to see how well Hughes mixed his pitches with the two different catchers.
Hughes has eight starts this year. In four he’s thrown to Posada and in the other four, obviously, he’s thrown to Francisco Cervelli. Let’s start, as we often do, at the beginning…
Number of Pitches: 108
Non FB Pitches (%): 20 (18%) 15 CB, 5 CH
NFBP (%): 14 (14) 14 CB
NFBP: 15 (14%) 15 CB
NFBP: 14 (14%) 11 CB, 3 CH
NFBP: 10 (10%) 9 CB, 1 CH
NFBP: 11 (11%) 11 CB
NFBP: 17 (16%) 14 CB, 3 CH
NFBP 10 (9%) 9 CB, 1 CH
After breaking it down individually, let’s add it all up.
On the season, Phil has thrown 415 pitches to Jorge Posada and 422 to Francisco Cervelli. Out of those pitches to Posada, 63 of them have been non-fastball pitches (15.18%). Of the pitches to Frankie Blue Eyes, only 48 (11.37%) have been non fastballs. His total for the season is 111 non-fastballs out of 837 pitches (13.26%)
It would seem Steve’s casual observation is right: when Posada was catching, Phil Hughes threw more curveballs and changeups. Now, this is a very elementary study. I didn’t adjust for the teams/batters Hughes faced. Perhaps those starts with Cervelli behind the dish, his last four starts, have featured teams that can be attacked with just a fastball. I’m also, so far, conducting this in a vacuum, comparing Phil to nobody. So, I’m going to look at CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Javier Vazquez to see their non-fastball percentages.
CC: 55.3 % non-fastball (includes sinkers, sliders, changeups, and curveballs)
A.J.: 25.1 % non-fastball (includes curves and changeups)
Andy: 20% non-fastball (includes curves and changeups)
Javy: 52.5% non-fastball (includes curves, sliders, changeups)
What we’ve seen with our eyes is definitely backed up by the numbers. Phil Hughes does not throw his non-fastball pitches nearly as much as his teammates. This problem also seems to be compounded when Francisco Cervelli is catching. If the two of them don’t start mixing pitches soon, Phil’s going to start to get hit around. That’s not going to be good for anybody.