Losing Velocity
Friday, March 25, 2011 at 6:31PM
David Pinto

Reports today indicated that Phil Hughes lost velocity off his fastball.  Interestingly, he showed a decline in overall velocity as the 2010 season progressed:

Phil Hughes timelines, 2010.His fastball, however, was fine:

Phil Hughes fastball timelines, 2010.His fastball was consistent throughout the year, peaking a bit in May.  His loss of velocity was due to two factors related to his curveball.  Phil threw more curves and fewer fastballs as the season progressed, and his curveball velocity fell off.

Phil Hughes curveball timelines, 2010.Note that the slower curve resulted in more swings and a lower batting average when the ball was put in play.  In other words, the slower curveball was an improvement.

If Hughes's velocity is really down this spring, there's no evidence in the 2010 season data that anything went wrong.  I suspect this is an artifact of spring training games, where sometimes pitchers work on mechanics and new pitches in games.  I'd love to see the readings on his fastballs when he throws bullpens.

Article originally appeared on MLB Baseball Analytics (https://baseballanalytics.org/).
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