This morning my Twitter feed has been full of talk about Phil Hughes’ declining velocity, starting with a couple reports quoting scouts.
First, here’s Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com:
Scouts following Yankees have been stunned by Phil Hughes’ lack of velocity this spring 87-89 mph, with more 87s than 89s.
And now here’s Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
I can give amens to DKnobler’s scout take about Hughes’ velocity being down. Yankees say was down last yr, too, and came up in Apr. But one scout said had Hughes at 90-94mph this time last yr and it is 87-89 now with heavy reliance on cutter.
What’s especially interesting is that Ben Shpigel of the New York Times wrote an article Wednesday about how Hughes had “unveiled” an altered grip on his slider that made the pitch more like a cutter and was very pleased with the pitch after it accounted for six of his seven strikeouts against the Blue Jays. In talking about the pitch Hughes explained that “it’s just something to get them off my fastball.”
Of course, that takes on a slightly different tone when accompanied by reports of his fastball being in the high-80s. Hughes’ average fastball clocked in at 92.6 miles per hour last season, which was down from 93.8 mph in 2009 but still well above the MLB average. If he’s indeed relying far more on a cutter his overall velocity readings are going to be down, but assuming scouts are isolating his fastball when they pass along readings in the high-80s there’s certainly some reason for concern.
TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Blue Jays have placed Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad injury.
An MRI before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox revealed a low-grade strain, and Tulowitzki will receive treatment on the leg before resuming baseball activities.
“I think I needed more time to get over the hump,” he said. “There was a couple things that made me realize that I wasn’t myself out there. I just felt it too many times.”
Tulowitzki was injured stealing second in New York against the Yankees on Tuesday. He came out of that game, and after sitting out the remainder of the series, he returned for Friday night’s home game against the Red Sox but was ineffective, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and showing limitations in his movement in the field.
“It’s tough,” Tulowitzki said. “You could rest it and maybe get better in a week or so, but then you have to play with a man down, and that’s not the right thing to do either, so that was the decision.”
He is batting .204 this season, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are expected to split time at shortstop until Tulowitzki returns.
The Blue Jays called up left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to take Tulowitzki’s spot on the roster. Loup, who has yet to play this season, has been recovering from a forearm strain in his pitching arm and just completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mets have acquired first baseman James Loney from the Padres in exchange for cash, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported on Saturday afternoon. The Mets’ interest in Loney was first reported on Tuesday after learning that Lucas Duda would be out “a while” with a stress fracture in his back.
Loney, 32, has spent the entirety of the 2016 season with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system. He hit .342/.373/.424 with two home runs and 28 RBI in 169 plate appearances.
Rubin suggests Loney could platoon at first base with Wilmer Flores, who is expected to return from the disabled list soon.
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have placed shortstop Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right foot.
Aybar left Friday night’s game in the fifth, one inning after he was hit by a pitch from Miami’s Adam Conley. The Braves said Friday night that X-rays were negative.
Aybar, acquired as part of the offseason deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, is hitting .182.
Daniel Castro is starting at shortstop in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.
In a corresponding move, the Braves recalled right-hander Aaron Blair from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Saturday’s game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday that Clay Buchholz has been moved to the bullpen.
Buchholz was lit up for six runs on Thursday in just the latest poor outing in a year full of them thus far. His ERA now sits at a lofty 6.35 and he is posting a career low strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine innings while both his walk rate and his home run rates have spiked. His WHIP — 1.465 — is the worst he’s posted since 2008.
Eduardo Rodriguez will take his place in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list. He’ll get what would have been Buchholz’s next start on Tuesday.
According to the depth chart, Buchholz was the Red Sox’ second starter. He’s been their worst starter by far this year, however, and now he’s likely a long man who will be seeing mopup duty for the foreseeable future.