Phil Hughes has just left the mound after giving up a single to Alex Cora in the bottom of the sixth inning. It scored a run to make it 4-1 Mets. Like most of the at bats in this game, every pitch was either a fastball or a cutter. This is frustrating.
I know that it’s Alex Cora and Hughes should be able to get him on just fastballs, but even a guy like Cora is going to hit a fastball if he sees it five times before hand and it’s not 93-96 MPH. Hughes has to throw his curve ball (and his changeup, we’ll get to that later) more. Last night, he threw just nine of them.
The most trouble Hughes saw was against the Mets’ 3-4-5 hitters. These hitters, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, and David Wright, saw just 7 non fastballs (6 curves, 1 change) in their nine combined at bats. The most concerning part of this was the third at bat against Wright, seen here. While the result, a strikeout, was very good, the fact that Hughes and Cervelli had the same approach against Wright as they did in the previous two at bats (RBI singles), is unsettling. Either they weren’t recognizing that Wright was catching up to the fastball/cutter or Hughes was just being too stubborn and shaking off any of Cervelli’s calls for non-fastballs/cutters.
Because of this lack of a non-fastball-type pitch, it seemed as though Phil had trouble putting away the Mets hitters, like he did against Boston last time out. As the season progresses, I hope Phil realizes that he can’t just keep going to the fastball and cutter to put guys away easily. His curveball has very good bite to it and I hate to see it go unused.
As for the changeup, well, I’m actually kind of angry about that. All spring training, we were told that Phil Hughes had improved his change up and that was the reason he won the fifth starter’s job over Joba Chamberlain. This was a lie. Hughes has thrown 13 changeups all season, including last night when he threw just one. Maybe I’m being to harsh and Phil is throwing it well in side-sessions, but until he throws it consistently in a game, I don’t believe in his changeup at all. On the proverbial flip side, perhaps it’s not a bad thing that Hughes is throwing so few changeups. If he’s not confident in being able to control it, then he shouldn’t throw it, lest he want it to get pounded.