Apr 9, 2008

Sure, I'll take a shot

at the reasoning for Phil Hughes' apparent drop in velocity, similar to what Saber Scouting did: I don't think there is a drop to talk about.

What we're basing all this talk of lost velocity on are two things: 1) Hughes one inning appearance in the 2006 Futures Game, when he consistently hit 95 mph, and 2) the scouting reports that said he sat 91-95 mph.

Let's take those one at a time.

- In the Futures Game, Hughes came in knowing he would pitch just one inning. Many (if not all) pitchers can increase their velocity if they know they'll be pitching just one or two innings. Ross Ohlendorf and Joba are prime examples: they throw at least three mph faster in the bullpen because they can 'let it go' without worrying about maintaining velocity through six innings.

And don't forget that despite that increased velocity, Hughes gave up 4 hits and 3 runs in that inning.

- The scouting reports that said Hughes threw 91-95 (aka 'low 90s') are actually correct (for the most part). Hughes average fastball velocity in 2007 was 92.3 mph, almost the definition of low 90s. Hughes has also been known to touch 95-96 mph, and also drop down to 89. That certainly seems like a pitcher who sits in the low 90s.

Fine, but why was his velocity down in yesterday's game? First off, 'down' in this case means 88-92, not exactly Doug Davis. But I would say the biggest reason was the weather. In his last Spring Training game the temperature was a very Florida-like 76 degrees. You can take the Gameday velocity for what it's worth, but he was consistently hitting 93-94 mph, even in innings 3-5. Yesterday in Kansas City, it was 53 and windy. When the temperature warms up, I'm sure his velocity will also.

And most of all, he's pitched just nine innings. Let's give him at least 50 before we jump to any conclusions.

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