Phil Hughes, mechanically flawed
The Yankees suffered another blowout, this one, however, was at the hands of Baltimore, rather than the Indians, Red Sox, ______ (feel free to insert the foe). Phil Hughes was the primary problem, though, and his performance—to me—raises a few flags.
For more on this, here’s Bryan Hoch (MLB):
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Hughes’ velocity was fine and that his biggest challenge was tweaking his mechanics so as not to “push” the ball to home plate, which caused Hughes’ pitches to rise in the strike zone.
I’ve discussed Hughes’ mechanical issues in what seems like an endless amount of posts. Apparently, he just cannot get this very important aspect of his game to click and, whenever he struggles, it’s not because of his talent, rather it is an underlying mechanical issue that is the cause. In addition, this issue is also the root of many injuries and injury concerns. For instance, note the following bits from previous posts.
From February 2009:
I’m a huge Phil Hughes fan, however, I’m also one of those guys who believes he is an injury-prone pitcher. Yes, none of the injuries have been of the arm variety — that’s true — though I would argue that the injuries he has succumbed to (rib, hamstring), have been caused by poor mechanics.
From October 2008:
The scout here is telling us what we already know. Phil Hughes has a lot of problems controlling his motion (delivery), and those problems ultimately create greater problems related to his health (injuries) and his pitching.
From August 2008:
Hughes has had a lot of problems performing his delivery, over and over again (this has happened throughout his career), and many of his injuries have been the direct result of mechanical problems. Mechanical issues have also hurt Hughes’ control, whether its of his fastball or his curveball and we saw that earlier in the year (and then he was injured, which was probably the result of his mechanics, yet again).
From March 2008:
Hughes has clearly done this before. Eiland will really need to work with him on his mechanics, an issue that seems to be reoccuring for him. A few months ago Hughes explained last year’s dip in velocity, citing that it was brought on by a mechanical issue that he eventully worked out before the season’s end. At this point, we know that Hughes has some trouble with his mechanics, now, we’ll just have to wait and see if he’ll move past the problem or if it’ll constantly creep back up on him, making him vulnerable and prone to a variety of injuries (or dips in his velocity, performance, etc.).
Hell, here’s Phil from January 2008:
After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command.
That last post brought on quite a bit of criticism, however, I think that my claim has proven to be valid. I’ve written about this multiple times. It’s no secret, really. Phil Hughes cannot successfully duplicate his delivery and this has often led to injuries. He’s constantly dealing with mechanical issues that give fans pause.
Now, if you’re the Yankees, when do Hughes’ mechanical inconsistencies begin to bother you? When will Phil Hughes tear another hammy or tweak his intercostal muscle or rip a lat muscle? Yes, he’s young and has time, but how much time do you afford him before the doubt (which is often synonymous with reality) settles in? A few weeks ago, we saw Phil Hughes at his best in Detroit—mechanics and all. Folks were salivating while saying Joba should be in the bullpen and Hughes should be in the rotation all year. Two starts later, we’re begging for Chien-Ming Wang’s sinker.
What gives? I’m sure the Yankees are asking the same. I don’t know what to make of Phil Hughes—not yet—but, I think it’s safe to say that we must temper our expectations and, realistically, the worst should be assumed. Until he can iron out his mechanical issues, he’ll never be a constructive cog for this team—period.