Hughes focusing on making fastball a priority again

After struggling for a year and a half in the rotation, Phil Hughes earned himself some praise this spring for the way he pitched, but most fans, myself included, have all but written him off by this point and are counting down the days until Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda will come back to knock him out of the rotation.

Pettitte and Pineda aren’t back yet though so for now Hughes still has a couple more starts to prove that he deserves to stay. And he’s thinks he knows why he’s struggling – he’s not using his fastball enough.

“Yeah, the changeup and the cutter obviously have their spots, but when I rely on one thing or the other too much that sometimes gets me in trouble,” Hughes told Roderick Boone of Newsday. “That goes along with fastball command. I’m constantly behind trying to go to other things to try to get back into [favorable counts]. So the fastball really has to be the biggest priority for me and I can go from there.”

Hughes has actually gotten away from his fastball a bit this year, throwing the pitch 57.4 percent of the time. Instead he has relied on a cutter, curveball, changeup combo although none of the pitches have been very effective so far this season.

Hughes also talked about trying to get ahead in at bats early, but honestly it has looked more like he is having problems putting hitters away rather than getting ahead. It’s become somewhat of a joke that Hughes can get to 0-2 only to fall behind a hitter 3-2.

Either way, I don’t expect much from Hughes at this point. Sure, he is talking about something he fixed, but this has become somewhat of an annual tradition. Hughes struggles – he says he spotted something mechanical – and then doesn’t do enough to fix the problem.

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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7 Responses to Hughes focusing on making fastball a priority again

  1. kev says:

    Rob, how do we even know Pettitte will be the same pitcher at 40 sitting out a whole season ???

    • Bronx_Knight says:

      By all accounts, Pettite's extended spring training is going very well. Anything's possible (he could get hurt, etc.), but Pettite doesn't appear to have lost anything during his year off.

  2. kev says:

    …also wondering why DJ Mitchell is still sitting in AAA, he's on fire right now, shouldn't he be given a shot, at least at long relief !

  3. kev says:

    …should have added this to my last post…I would have liked to see Warren called up before Cody Eppley!!!

    • Mike Sommer says:

      Warren got pasted recently. He, Banuelos (now on DL) and Betances haven't done well. Mitchell, meanwhile, has.

  4. Stoogazzo says:

    Excellent comment regarding Hughes. I can remember back in 2005 in spring training when that great judge of talent, and future hall of famer, in his mind only, Jorge Posada, stated Hughes would be the next Roger Clemens.
    Posada has proven his judgement is just as bad as his defensive capability when he caught.

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