Well Then What Is Wrong?

The Yankees have announced during tonight’s game that Phil Hughes doesn’t have circulatory problems. He doesn’t have TOS and he doesn’t have vascular issues. That is good news, but the question remains, what is wrong with him then?

It’s clear from his performance that something isn’t right. He can’t throw above 90-mph and his location hasn’t been great either. He felt some sort of “tightness” in his arm during his last bullpen and that led to 2 days of tests at Columbia Presby and an appointment today in St. Louis. But, those tests didn’t find anything and so his arm problems remain a mystery.

Well, maybe not. Tom Verducci named Hughes as a pitcher at risk in a preseason column. In his column he identified 11 pitchers at risk based on their innings jump in 2010. It’s interesting to look at the names on that list.

Of the 11 names on the list, three are pitching well- Price (TB), Beachy (Atl) and Gonzalez (Oak). Two are on the DL- Hughes (NYY) and Sanabia (Fla). The remaining six are pretty bad- Baumgarner (SF- 6.73 ERA), Latos (SD- 4.98 ERA), Cecil (Tor- 6.86 ERA), Gee (NYM- 4.73ERA), Wood (Cin- 6.82 ERA) and Nova (NYY- 5.14 ERA). That means 8-of-11 or 73% are pitching poorly or hurt right now.

The problem is that if you assume Verducci is right (I do) what is the “cure” to this problem? Verducci only notes that the evidence points to “regression or injury” in the year following the big innings jump. So is there a cure for Hughes or is this simply a matter or him doing too much in 2010 and now facing the consequences? I am not sure anyone knows the answer to that question.