Pitcher Breakdown: The Yankees Are Worried About Phil Hughes

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIApril 3, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03:  Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees walks to the dugout against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Phil Hughes Final Line: 4IP, 5H,  5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K .333 GB/FB ratio

One of the mysteries during the Yankees spring training centered around the lack of velocity Phil Hughes displayed in his few starts. Apparently, scouts were taken aback by Hughes' lack of velocity. Many of them were recording his fastball in the 86-88 range. Joe Girardi told reporters during the spring that Hughes showed the same velocity in spring training last season and that he is curious whether Hughes would get back to 93-94 mph during today's start.  

Today's start did very little to alleviate those concerns. Hughes threw 40 fastballs without a swing and miss, and the average velocity sat at 89.25 mph. His top speed was recorded at 91 mph. During his postgame news conference, Girardi said it takes time for some hard throwing starters to get their velocity going, which is true.

However, the Yankees have yet to see this from Hughes this late in the season, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild told ESPN's Adam Marchand that he was concerned about Hughes.

In Hughes' first start last season, he threw 36 fastballs. They averaged 92.7 mph, topping out at 94.4 mph, and he had opponents swing and miss seven times. In a postgame interview with YES Network's Kim Jones, Hughes acknowledged that his velocity is not where he wants it to be, but that he is feeling fine. 

I'm not sure what's wrong, but he could be feeling the effects of throwing more than 180 innings for the first time in his career. Whatever the problem may be, Hughes needs to locate better than he did today. Both home runs he allowed were on flat cutters, and he only threw three of his 10 curveball for strikes.

It is still only April 3, but the Hughes situation is something to keep an eye on over the coming weeks.