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.
Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.
Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.
At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.