LAST GAME vs. TWINS:
Winning is something the Yankees know how to do, and especially against the Twins, but other than CC Sabathia the starting pitching has made that almost impossible. The lack of innings pitched has depleted the bullpen and right before the team heads to Fenway Park and Rangers Ballpark.
The Yankees are sending Phil Hughes to the mound, which is basically as good as forfeiting the series, and handing the Twins their first series win in the Bronx since 2001.
What is mind-boggling is that the Yankee brass, and shockingly a majority of fans continue to support Hughes because they have fantasies that he can win 18-games like he did in 2010.
Yes his velocity is back in the low 90’s, but that is about it.
Hughes has pitched a total of eight innings over two starts, allowing three homers, eight earned runs, 11 strikeouts, four walks and posts an ERA of 9.00. Opposing batters have a .351 average vs. Hughes, so basically with the way the Twins M&M boys are hitting this could be a blood bath.
In his first two starts, Hughes is throwing 64% of his pitches for strikes, as he tends to start each inning with a strikeout. The first batter he faces averages a .182 against him, but after that Hughes gets shelled, so this accounts for eight of his 11 strikeouts.
And the reason hitters succeed vs. Hughes is because he cannot to finish them because off, as they figure him out very quickly. This became clear when I looked at pitch type, number of times thrown and how many resulted in a strike.
Out of all the strikes he threw, only six Rays and nine Angels actually swung at the pitch, which indicates to me they watching his location on purpose because 15 total swings and misses is a low number.
Well that is what happens when a pitcher relies on one-strikeout pitch; for Hughes it is obviously his four-seam fastball, and hitters know it is coming inside.
Look at Hughes strikeout plots below from his earlier two starts, courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net.
The yellow arrow points to location of hit balls; and the grey circle highlights strikes and fouls balls.
Overall, I do not think the mystery of Phil Hughes should haunt Yankee fans as he is basically a pitcher who can throw 91-94 mph but cannot locate his pitches or confuse hitters at all.
Until Hughes wants to expand his reportorial and become a student of the game again, he will fail relaying on the radar gun. Even if the Yankees save him today, this will continue to happen and he cannot be relied on as a starter until changes are made.