The purpose of this article is an intellectual exercise in prediction. I will be pointing to a few key matchups for Perez in the Indians lineup which are advantageous for the Indians. Following the game I will review how these matchups influenced the outcome of Tuesday night’s game.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes is off to a fine start on this early season. Of course, competence from Hughes is to be considered fine for the right-hander. He’s a fly ball pitcher who does not induce soft contact nor does he induce league average swing-and-miss rates. Essentially, Hughes does things that correctly reflect his overarching incompetence as a big league starter.
It is with this kind and compassionate opening that the pitcher preview of an individual who is now best known as an “innings-eater” begins. Indeed, the organizational malfeasance that would lead to paying Hughes $58 million over five years is why the Twins were forced to bring in Derek Falvey from the Indians illustrious GM tree. Digressing, Hughes is offers equal opportunity incompetence a .740 OPS against left handed batters and .762 OPS against right handed batters.
First, the arsenal of one Phil Hughes.
There are three main offerings to focus on for the right-hander: A four-seam fastball, a cutter, and a curveball. Perhaps even more concerning is that Hughes is down multiple ticks with his fastball and now toes the line around 90 miles per hour.
One of the reasons Phil Hughes struggles to put forth competent big league starts is that he has below average fastball velocity and it spends a lot of time in the middle of the strike zone.
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley destroys most fastballs, particularly any fastball thrown for a strike, with middling velocity and little command in the strike zone. Hughes, in turn, is a hugely advantageous matchup for Brantley.
For Jose Ramirez, leave a fastball upper half and you have found his nitro zone in terms of power output.
At least for Hughes, the cutter is used off the plate away from left handed hitters. Occasionally this induces bad contact. Ultimately, the Indians just have to spit on the cutter away. Laying off this offering will be important to their success.
Finally, for Hughes, the curveball is used to induce swings at the bottom of the strike zone.
Michael Brantley and the curveball another prime matchup for the left-handed comeback player of the year candidate.
If I was to handpick an arsenal which the Cleveland Indians should punish with reckless abandon, it would almost exactly mirror that of Phil Hughes. This is an unbelievably favorable matchup and I would prefer the Indians take advantage rather than forcing me to yell at the television for two hours.