Those two Tweets from Jack Curry and Ben Shpigel are just maddening. Phil Hughes’ troubles with finishing off hitters this season have been one of the (only) two frustrating things we’ve seen out of him in 2010. The other is his lack of mixing pitches, but after the frustrating first inning, he didn’t have much trouble in that department (25 curves out of 102 pitches per Brooks, but under 50% strikes). However, the lack of finishing hitters is beyond frustrating.
I kept a tally of foul balls of of Phil with two strikes (insert get a life comment here). There were six off of him in the first, five in the second, zero in the third, and two in the fourth before he exited. The number of foul balls did trend downward as the game went on and Phil did end up with 16 swings and misses, so there are encouraging signs.
It’s also worth noting that the defensive brain fart from the Yankee middle infielders allowed the Blue Jays to score their fifth run off of Hughes. While recording that out wouldn’t have made his outing look much better, four runs seems better than five runs (even if it is just 3 2/3 IP).
Getting back to the point at hand, Hughes has to work on finishing hitters. Whether that’s locating his fastball better with two strikes or using his curveball more effectively is up to him and Dave Eiland. Call it a hunch or faith in Hughes, but something tells me we won’t see this sort of thing in 2011. What I’m not sure we’ll see–and I hope we do–is more of the changeup from Phil.