Expecting (Hoping For) a Hughes Bounceback

Now that it is looking less and less likely that the Yankees will be able to acquire a number-two starter for at least the first half of the 2012 season, it has become obvious that Phil Hughes must absolutely be back with a vengeance next year. We have seen from the first half of 2010 how dominant he can be – a true number-two starter. However, after a poor second half of 2010 and a miserable, injury-ridden campaign in 2011, it has become hard to picture Hughes at his highest potential. Because confidence in the team’s current pitching situation is quite low right now, what better time to show some optimism about Phil Hughes next year?

Simply put, Phil Hughes’ 2011 season may just have been an outlier. A pitcher who relies heavily on his ability to throw his fastball past hitters, usually does not fare well with decreased velocity. With his mystery dead-arm injury, that is exactly what Hughes had to go through this past year. Phil Hughes’ 2011 campaign exemplifies the belief that 1-2 mph can have a profound impact on a pitcher.

If you look at the fastball column, you can clearly see how effective the pitch was in 2010 (or at least the first-half). At 92.6 mph, he had a 14.6 wFB, which is quite good. All of a sudden, with a drop of 1.3 mph from 2010 to 2011, the value of his four-seamer plummeted. Virtually the same thing occurred with his cutter. With a loss of 1.4 mph in 2011, it became just as ineffective as it was effective in 2010.

Therefore, we can make the argument that if Hughes can recover the 1-2 mph lost on his fastball, he will be a very effective pitcher in 2012. Unless the problem is more serious than we were ever told, I really doubt Hughes will continue to suffer from the same arm issue. With a faster fastball: (1) Hughes’s secondary pitches will become much more deceptive and effective, and (2) he will get more swings and misses (and more strikeouts). Ultimately, Phil Hughes’s problems are much simpler than anyone really thinks. With a pitcher like him, increased velocity = increased success. That’s all it comes down to.

We all know it – Phil Hughes is vitally important to the Yankees’ success in 2012. There is certainly room for optimism. If he can fully recover from the shoulder problems of this past season, and regain the lost fastball velocity, I think he should be very effective moving forward.

About Mike D.

Mike D. is one of 2 co-founders of the Yankees Fans Unite Blog. He has been a Yankees fan for as long as he can remember, growing up in a family of huge NYY fans. His knowledge of the game comes from watching baseball his whole life, and playing third base in high school and college.

Posted on December 28, 2011, in Player Analysis, Statistical Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I think i read a couple weeks back that he was in California training this off-season to get into better shape. He was a bit heavier last season and I think with how big Joba got no one payed attention to how big Hughes got.

    Hughes pitching well will surely stop all the talk of a wasted off-season for the Yankees. Nice article Mike.

  2. ha googled him training in California and what came up was our article. Here it is.


  3. Matt, I think it’s important to and this last paragraph that appeared on RAB about A-Rod and his trip to Germany.

    ““Lest anyone think this is repeat of the Gallea or even the Bartolo Colon situation, Alex did get the Yankees’ blessing before getting the plasma injection. The Yankees also cleared it with the commissioner’s office, so there will be no surprise investigations popping up”.

    Here is the entire link:

  4. Imagine a rotation

    Hughes (healthy)
    Nova (if he is what he was last year)
    and AJ or Garcia

    if this all happens and they can find someway to get rid of AJ the off-season would be great in my book.

    • Put me on the mailing list for that book. I would love to see that rotation.

      • mikes article is great in showing just how a difference of 1 to 2 mph is to a pitcher like Hughes.

        hopefully his off-season workout gets him back to form.

        • I will say. If the Yankees were to get Garza and Hughes does get back close to the form he had the 1st half of 2010. I can definitely see the Yankees moving AJ prior to the 2013 season if not sooner. Even if he has to eat say half of 1 year of his salary.

          It also opens up all sorts of thoughts on what the Yankees would do with the FA class of 2013 (Hamels, Cain, and Anabel Sanchez). Do they still go after one assuming they are still available.

          • I think alot of that depends on how the Killer B’s pitch this year in AAA right?

            • I think your exactly right. But, if the Yankees are able to trade for Garza rest assured 1 of the Killer B’s will be part of the trade. That really only leaves 1 left. I don’t think Cashman will part with Banuelos for Garza so I think the one to go would be Betances.

  5. Yup you are correct on that. Also I hope that if Noesi doesn’t make the rotation this year that they just leave him as a starter in AAA. No need to let him sit in the bullpen all year.

  6. Ain’t no way no how dat da do dr traden a A lefty killen bee fer any’un!
    Just saying you guys are right, of course, we aren’t Cashman! 8)

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