Game 90, Twins at Mariners

marc w · July 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Young vs. Phil Hughes, 7:10pm

Ah, Phil Hughes. Jeff discussed Phil Hughes relentless tinkering and adjustments back in May at Fangraphs, and that’s the best piece to read to get a sense of Hughes. We’ve seen him many times through the years, but that matters less with a guy like this – you really need to know what he’s doing *now.* As you probably know, he vacillated between throwing tons of sliders and throwing none of them; he’s in a slider-free phase this year, which means he’s essentially a fastball/cutter/curve guy. The simplified approach seems to have paid some dividends in terms of his control, as Hughes has just 10 unintentional walks in 109+ innings on the year. His K rate’s a career high as well (excepting his time as a reliever, of course), and even his old nemesis, the home run ball, has mostly stayed away after he moved from new Yankee Stadium to Target field.

It’s all added up to a sparkling FIP of 2.79, and the best seasonal fWAR of his career even though we’re not at the break yet. As nice as it is for Hughes’ ERA to start with a 3 and not a 5, it’s still something of a disappointment given his fielding-independent stats. For years, Hughes matched or even outpitched his FIP, as HRs sent that measure ever higher. This year, it’s beautiful, but he’s been undone by BABIP and strand rate. He can certainly hope for that BABIP to come down over time, though the Twins defense isn’t going to make that automatic. But strand rate’s been an issue for Hughes for years now – his 69% mark this year is a tiny bit under his career average of 70.6% (a mark that is itself inflated by his year as a reliever). There’s no obvious culprit for that. Unlike his teammates, Hughes can actually get a strikeout every now and again. In the BBREF splits, he’s been decent with two outs (and hurt by BABIP in those situations). You’d point to it as an obvious regression candidate, but again: he’s thrown nearly 900 big-league innings at this point.

Hughes has shown nearly no platoon splits over the course of his career, but he’s running BABIP-driven reverse splits this season.

1: Saunders, RF
2: Jones, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Morrison, 1B
6: Hart, DH
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
SP: Chris Young

Jordan Pries, Cam Hobson and Brett Shankin are among the minor leaguers getting starts tonight, but with apologies to Pries, all eyes are going to be on Everett, where Luiz Gohara will try to shake off Brazil’s disastrous World Cup performance and get a win for the Aqua Sox. The big lefty made one start earlier this month in Hillsboro, and it went very poorly, but he’s as talented an arm as the M’s system has, and he’ll be making his first start at home. Go check him out.


51 Responses to “Game 90, Twins at Mariners”

  1. MrZDevotee on July 9th, 2014 3:02 pm

    Just in: Masahiro Tanaka put on DL and sent to NY for an MRI for discomfort/inflamation in his elbow…

    Damn. Not a Yankee fan, but I actually hope Tanaka is okay… Heckuva talent.

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