Phil Hughes made his second minor league rehab start last night with Double-A Trenton. And the results were decidedly mixed.
Hughes allowed one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out three. He threw 42 out of 72 pitches for strikes.
And while Hughes topped out at 95 mph on the radar gun in Sunday’s start with Class A Staten Island, he reached 93 mph on his fastball last night and mostly sat in the 89-91 mph range. Of course, that’s better than the 89.3 mph he averaged on his fastball before going on the disabled list, but the Yankees are obviously watching his velocity closely.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was in attendance for last night’s start and told Fred Kerber of the New York Post that Hughes still has some work to do.
“He was OK,” said Cashman, who had proclaimed velocity and continuing to build arm strength as the goals of the evening. “He needs to command his fastball better and get his consistency going. He probably needs a few more starts.”
Before the game, Cashman told Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com that Hughes’ next start will probably come with Double-A Trenton, with a pitch count around 90. Things could change if Brian Gordon struggles in the rotation, but it’s increasingly likely that Hughes will need two or three more starts before returning from the disabled list.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.