Blog Entry

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Posted on: April 15, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 4:51 pm


By Evan Brunell

"I can't keep going out there and digging us a hole," Phil Hughes said after his disastrous start Thursday in which he failed to make it through five innings yet again. Hughes was two outs away, but seven hits and five earned runs were too much to overcome even though he didn't walk anyone and added two strikeouts.

He won't have to dig New York a hole anymore as he has been placed on the disabled list, with reliever Lance Pendleton being promoted as Joe Girardi tells the New Jersey Star Ledger. They believe Hughes has a dead arm and needs to work through it.

Hughes' main problem, as has been well-documented this far, is a curious loss of velocity.

"I had a chuck-and-duck mentality out there," Hughes said to the New York Post, only illustrating how bad it's become. Hughes averaged 93.6 miles per hour on his fastball in 2009, when he pitched out of the bullpen. That mark dipped slightly upon his return to the starting rotation, which is not unheard of, finishing with a 92.5 mph mark. But this year, he's got a case of Javier Vazquez-itis as he's all the way down to 89.4 mph.

The Post's Kevin Kernan notes that Hughes' troubles stretch to last year, citing his 11-2 record with a 3.65 ERA prior to the All-Star break, with a 7-6 mark and 4.90 ERA after. Putting aside for the moment the fallacy of leaning on win-loss records to tell you something, the ERA disparity does. However, velocity is not to blame. While Hughes' was unmistakably worse in the second half as xFIP supports, velocity's not the issue. Check out Hughes' velocity chart over his career at Fangraphs, and you'll see his velocity was within normal range, as the chart reveals. (What may have been responsible was simply him tiring in his first full season, a spike in home run rates and a lower K/BB rate. You can't rule out an injury as well.)

Meanwhile, GM Brian Cashman and skipper Joe Girardi are on the same page in that Hughes simply has to pitch through it; it's the only thing that can be done.

"It's important to get depth from our rotation," Cashman said before the game. "Right now he hasn't been fully equipped yet because of lack of velocity. The only way to get through that is to pitch. It's a tightrope we're walking as we try to get his feet back on the ground. His history has been that his velo comes over time, so we're waiting on it."

Girardi concurred after the game. "He's still not right and it's our job to get him right," he said. "He's got to pitch to get things right, he can't just go on a sabbatical or something. We have off-days coming up, a lot of things we have to discuss."

As's Danny Knobler notes, no Yankee since at least 1919 has ever started the year in the rotation and remained there after not going past five innings -- and now Hughes will continue that trend. Bartolo Colon will replace Hughes in the rotation.

"It's not my decision to make," Hughes Thursday night of what happens with him. "This is just something I've got to get through, hopefully it comes back overnight. Whatever it is, whether it is bullpen, minors, long toss, just whatever it is, I've got to make sure I do it."

The bullpen does have some appeal to it, as he could have stayed in the majors and work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The club could keep him stretched out as a long reliever but as Hughes notes, how is that a long-term solution?

"If I were throwing a lot of balls, that would be one thing," he said. "But me going down there and throwing as hard as I can, maybe for an inning that would be good, but I don't think that's necessarily a long-term solution."

And it's not, which is why Hughes is now headed to the DL, allowing the Yankees to send him to their spring complex to work on his arm and then send him on a rehab assignment. This will allow New York to give Hughes a few minor-league starts without needing to burn an option. The Yankees have a dire problem on their hands. They already had to deal with the risk Ivan Nova at No. 4 and Freddy Garcia at No. 5 brings. Now, without Hughes, the team is down to two proven pitches in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. And as everyone knows, Burnett is pretty good, but pretty inconsistent. Losing out on Cliff Lee has really presented a problem for New York.

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Category: MLB

Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:53 am

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Since: Feb 26, 2007
Posted on: April 16, 2011 12:12 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

From the minute Cliff Lee chose the Phillies, the Yankee season was doomed.  For years, the Yankees keep proving they only make playoff runs with pitching. 

Within the first month, Joe G has gone from the claim of a 5-man rotation to a different reality.  The Yankees can now send out CC and punt for the next four starts.  Their alleged starteres are likely just long relievers.

For all Cashman's bravado that while Boston won the winter, he would make pick-ups in-season and win.  Let's even put the Yanks' new need for a left-handed reliever aside.  In the history of Major League baseball,  no GM has built an entire starting rotation from scratch through mid-seaon trades. Ever.

Yankee hitting may mask reality for a while.  But this game is about pitching. The Yankees do not have it.  Their season is likely over.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: April 16, 2011 7:56 am

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

The dude sucks and the Yanks will never sniff a title as long as this buffoon is guiding the disaster that is the 2011 New York Yankees.

So the Yanks already won a titlte under General Joe that eliminates your "never" comment.

If you were only referring to 2011 only, then you should re-write that comment because it make no sense.

Care to express which team you follow...tough talk from someone who cannot provide their favorite team.

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: April 15, 2011 11:44 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Hey Carlito; I really like the genius Joe Girardi as the skipper. General Joe always has his paw on the pulse of Yankee greatness and I challenge you to find a better leader of men. Aw! You're absolutely right. The dude sucks and the Yanks will never sniff a title as long as this buffoon is guiding the disaster that is the 2011 New York Yankees. On second thought; there is a worse manager that resides in the AL East down in Chesapeake Bay that habitually overmanages on a daily basis. The funny thing about that dude is that every one of his teams are successful after he exits stage right. Coincidence? I think not!

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: April 15, 2011 8:46 pm

Babying Arms Hurts

Jim Palmer says that the problem with pitch counts and innings does not help pitchers.When Nolan Ryan took over the Rangers he said the starters had to go deeper in games.
The main problem is that as children they do not exercise their arms enough. Years agokids would play sandlot ball all day long, today they slot in their games only becausethey have too many options. The Latino players grow up playing ball all day 12 monthsa year. 
College and pro ball players are micromanaged and over coached. This bores the heck out of the kids and they go else where. They do not realize sports like football and Xtreme sportscan shorten their lives. Check the innings that Robin Roberts threw year after year andnever had a dead arm.
Remember Hughes fastball has little movement plus I have no confidence in the Yankeespitching coach. Hopefully he gets his head screwed on right abd finds a few mph and a littlehop on his number one.

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: April 15, 2011 8:11 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

It's a pretty reckless statement to say that Pettitte is waiting "for the steroids to become untraceable again". Andy told the people who count that he did try it  - and since, he has had no other experience with it. Andy has some credibility with me and most people.

Since: Jan 9, 2008
Posted on: April 15, 2011 7:16 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

The whole dead arm thing is a bit bizarre... didn't know you could place a guy on the DL for that. Undecided
Is this another case of rushing the pitcher through the system like what happened with Joba? I would really hate to see that happen with another great prospect. The organization is definitely a tough one on young players... minds.

Since: Dec 10, 2009
Posted on: April 15, 2011 7:16 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

AZCardman, Pettitewill get the itch to come back as soon as the steroids are undetectable, just like Clemens.  Sign for half a season, start out blazing, then fade as the effects wear off.  Playoffs?  useless for them.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:24 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Good thing we had all those Phil and Joba rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There were no rules for Hughes like they had for Joba....perhaps a quick google search would have told you that.

And Joba is fine..his injurie had nothing to do with the rules that were in place when he was a starter...but based on your comment this was a sad attempt at being sarcastic.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:23 pm

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Didn't the Braves have a pitcher slight guy wore glasses who made a 15-20 year career out of Location,Location, Location. The great Nolan Ryan didn't become great until he learned control. Don't send him to down to learn to throw harder but learn precision.

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