“In the first half things were going so well I didn’t need it,’’ Phil Hughes said of the change. “In the second half when I needed it I threw harder and curveballs. At the end of the season it was a good pitch for me, but …
“Larry (Rothschild) has given me some tips,’’ Hughes said of the first-year Yankees pitching coach. “He told me to explode at the end, to not get it going at the beginning (of the delivery).
“It’s not going to be a big strikeout pitch but I think it can be usable,’’ said Hughes. “I am not going to scrap it this early in my career.’’
Not sure how important the changeup really is for Hughes. It’s talked about a lot, but that’s all that may be – talk. When he was at his best last season he wasn’t really throwing it at all.
That said, Hughes has got the right idea though. He’s a young pitcher and he shouldn’t just give up on it at this point in his career. Without a third pitch he could fall into the trap of being like A.J. Burnett who, like Hughes, only throws fastballs and curveballs and when one pitch becomes slightly less effective he gets hit hard.
The danger is obviously the fact that Hughes doesn’t throw the pitch a lot because he doesn’t completely trust the pitch. If he’s throwing it just to throw it, it could wind up hurting him in a critical spot. Meanwhile he can’t work on it excessively during spring training or side sessions as he would be in danger of losing his touch on his other pitches.
It’s a fine line Hughes must walk and it may be one that takes year, not weeks or months, to workout. I do like the fact that he’s working with Rothschild now because he’s getting a chance to work with somebody with fresh eyes. This is a guy who hasn’t been with him for years and might be overlooking something he has done wrong so far during his career.