Whew! I almost nailed the line on Phil, but I actually underestimated him a bit. I put him down for 6 innings (spot on), 100 pitches (he threw 99), 3 hits (he allowed 2), 3 bb (2 again), and 2 runs (Phranchise pitched shutout ball). Enough with the pleasantries, though, here are a few things I learned, what about you guys? Anything to add?
- Jose Molina is not as bad a hitter as he showed last year. Despite the big talk about Swisher and Cano having bounceback years, Molina has some bounceback in him as well. A miserable .216, .263, .313 2008 stat line was much lower than his career marks of .238, .277, .340. Not that he’s anywhere approaching being a decent hitter, but his granny tonight and his .276 average so far this season shows that he’s not as bad as he was last year.
- Phil’s cutter is for real. On a night where his out pitch was not as sharp as it usually is, the cutter provides that extra variety that clearly keeps hitters off balance. Whereas last year, guys would foul off fastball after fastball until they could time it properly or Phil made a mistake, now he it’s obvious that opposing hitters can’t tell what’s coming. It was the cutter that got him out of his jam in the fourth, and even when he missed his cutter up in the zone against Laird, the Tigers catcher wound up striking out in confusion, possibly thinking it was a curve. What a difference one more pitch can make!
- Phil is still running up his pitch count a little more that you’d like. Part of that was his balky curve. Let’s see what happens in his next outing if he has Uncle Charlie working.
- Hughes retained his velocity through the whole game. I”m not surprised that he had an extra tick on his heater, throwing 90-94, touching 96 instead of his usual 90-93, touching 94-95. I figured that maybe he’d be a little geeked up at first and lose his velocity late as he did pretty much all of last year. Tonight, however, he was still throwing 90-93 at the end of his rope, tossing two straight at 93 to end his night. That is VERY, VERY encouraging.
- Mark Melancon is gaining trust and moving up the ladder. An inning of no hit, no walk, no run, 1 K ball moves him one step closer to challenging for that eight inning role in Bruney’s absence. The kid is electric.
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