Phil Hughes looks for answers as he struggles with his velocity

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As I noted in ATH this morning, people were talking during yesterday’s Yankees-Tigers game that Phil Hughes’ velocity was way down. The last time this was mentioned, during spring training, some dismissed the idea as a function of uncalibrated Juggs guns or, even if the observations were accurate, as something not worth worrying about.  It now seems that, yes, the reports were accurate, and yes, it is a cause for concern.

Hughes’ fastball averaged 89.25 m.p.h. according to PitchFX. That’s which is down from the 92-94 m.p.h. fastball he was featuring at the height of his effectiveness last season.  Both Hughes — who called his velocity issue “disconcerting” — and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild were concerned about it after the game according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.

Obviously one regular season start does not justify panic in the streets and looting of local businesses, but given how the Yankees’ rotation was characterized as “Sabathia and Hughes are good, everything else is a question mark,” this is something worth watching.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.