Phil Hughes Has Success with New Slider

Larry Rothschild, Phil HughesVia Chad Jennings of the Journal News:

Phil Hughes had seven strikeouts tonight, and the way he remembers it, all but one came on a modified version of his cutter. Disappointed in the pitch this spring, Hughes tweaked his cutter grip and turned the pitch into more of a slider, something slightly slower and bigger.

“It’s probably technically more slider now,” Hughes said. “But I’ll still call it a cutter because I don’t want to get in the mode of getting around it and lazy with it. If I just tell myself it’s a cutter, I’ll throw it with conviction.”

Hughes threw a slider when he was younger, including his early years in the Yankees minor league system, but he eventually dumped the pitch and picked up the cutter. When the cutter disappointed him again last week, Hughes had Larry Rothschild work with him on finding a new cutter/slider grip. He tried a few slight modifications, found one he liked and used the pitched 25 to 30 times tonight. He threw it more than either his curveball or changeup.

When Hughes was pitching well early last season a lot of it had to do with the success of his cutter. As the season progressed the cutter became less effective and his results suffered as a result and as the season ended his starts relied on whether or not his cutter was on that night, but he never had that consistency he had early on.

That’s precisely the reason why this change has me excited. If Hughes and Rothschild have been able to change his cutter so he can be more consistent with it, Hughes’ results will be more consistent too. For years the Yankees have insisted that Hughes is a four-pitch pitcher, but in reality he’s always struggled with his cutter/slider and changeups and been more of a fastball/curveball guy who has two other excuses for pitches.

This preseason he’s worked hard with his changeup and if he can turn this slider into a strong and effective pitch it will go a long way into helping him become a consistent front end starter that we’ve always thought he could be.

What do you think? Let us know.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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3 Responses to Phil Hughes Has Success with New Slider

  1. Arthur Ellis says:

    I think its called a "Slurveball" . Slider/cutter grip with a slow Curveball type brake.

  2. Franco Kotos says:

    I'm not sold on Phil Hughes. The past 2 seasons he's really tailed off in the 2nd half, 2009 was later in the year but 2010 was too early. I hope this new pitch helps him because when he's on, he's unhittable but he needs to regain his form in 2011. His 18-8 record last year looks good on paper only!

    • john says:

      Cmon Hughes is only 24 as of today. He is still learning as he goes Imagine how good he will be when he puts it all togwther. I give you that he got a TON of run support last year and probably was closer to 15-10 quality than 18-8.

      Im sold on him– Cy Hughes

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