Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hughes Unimpressive

It's the top of the 4th now, and Hughes just gave up a 2-run single to the previously 0-23 Thigpen. He had Thigpen 0-2 and let him foul off 100 pitches before giving in with a weak, loopy curveball.

I've held off on posting this sentiment for a while, but I've almost typed it several times. I'm unimpressed with Phil Hughes. He's young. He's obviously got some gifts. He just doesn't have anything resembling a commanding presence on the mound. Make no mistake, I'm not saying he's bad. I'm not saying he isn't ready or that he doesn't belong, but I'm still unimpressed.

Considering he was named as the top pitching prospect in the sport, he hasn't lived up to his reputation yet. Joba and Ian Kennedy both look much more dominant and comfortable than Hughes, not to mention Yovani Gallardo. Fastball....okay. Curve....inconsistent. Other pitches?

A perfect example of Hughes' unimpressive outings is one at bat in today's game. Adam Lind's ground rule double to left scored the Jays first run. Lind entered the game hitting .230/.273/.381 and Hughes fell behind him 2-0. Both pitches were little dinky-dunky crap that should never come out of his hands, let alone to a bad hitter like Lind. It may be unfair considering the difference in velocity, but Joba doesn't ever throw like that. Strike one might be a 98-100 mph fastball or an 88 mph slider, but they usually are in for strike one. That's an effective way to pitch. Face it, if you throw strike one you get a huge advantage. They either hit it, make an out, or you're in a position to control the remainder of the at bat. If you throw ball one, you have to come back with a strike or risk really getting in trouble. That one pitch can make or break an at bat.

Hughes' key to success is trusting his stuff and challenging hitters with it. He's too good to be playing around on the mound. He's not Mike Mussina at the end of his career. He's not Tom Glavine. Until he decides he's going to do that he'll get Guidry out there with that now familiar stern visage lecturing him mid-inning. He'll get another dozen visits by Posada mid-at bat. Hopefully, he'll come out next season with a new attitude. He has to.