Phil Hughes Changes Curveball Grip

Via Mark Hale of the NY Post:

In response, Hughes revealed to The Post that he will employ a new power curve, hopefully as soon as his start on Sunday in Toronto. It’s one of two major changes for the struggling 25-year-old, who said he will also implement new mechanics to his delivery.

Hughes will be using a new grip on his curveball, one that he characterized as more customary than his old grip and that he believes gives him more velocity as well as stronger spin and drop. Mechanically, he is changing the way he raises and plants his front, left leg, believing his current motion has gotten to “a point where it was really hindering my stuff…”

…Hughes’ old curve grip was what he calls “a spike,” where one of the three fingers used to hold the pitch is bent. He had tried increasing his arm speed to improve his old curve to no avail, and determined that changing the grip was necessary.

“I feel like I’ve made really good strides with it. It’s a lot more of like a power curveball now,” Hughes said. “[Pitching coach Larry Rothschild] was excited about it in the bullpen. I feel really good about it, too.”

It feels like an article like this comes out about Phil Hughes every couple of months. He’s constantly changing his grips on his slider, on his changeup, adjusting his mechanics in some way. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Obviously his willingness to adjust is great an imperative to staying in the major leagues.

However, it makes me wonder about Hughes and how good he really was coming up from the minors. Think about it. Over the years we heard great things about Hughes as a four-pitch minor league pitcher with a great curveball and an outstanding slider. So far that has not carried over the the major leagues at all. He’s also adjusted his mechanics again. That would be the second time this season I’ve written about that and probably third or fourth time in the past year and a half. Again, his willingness to adjust is paramount, but it makes you realize the kid that was so heavily hyped coming out of the minors is not here.

Hughes did throw his curveball more than usual in his last start. Perhaps it was a last ditch effort to see if he needed to make a change or not. Apparently after throwing it about 20 times and only getting one swing-and-miss he decided it was time to change. Hopefully the new adjustments work because what I wrote last week remains true. He’s going to have to be a lot more of a fastball/cutter guy if he’s going to be a front end starter for the Yankees. His curveball, and his changeup, remain big parts of that equation. If he can’t make the adjustments, I feel like he’ll ultimately be out of the Bronx or at least in the bullpen.

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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