After a rough first start for Collin McHugh, the 30-year-old right-hander will make his second start on the road to rejoining the Astros rotation this Wednesday.
Most fans would be sad to learn the Naturals took advantage of the rusty Collin McHugh, but we have to remember there is much more to this than the stats. How will the Astros pitcher respond in his second outing?
The 42 pitches, 26 strikes stat line is very promising. Better yet, he only allowed one walk, which means he was in and around the strike zone. Of course, no Astros fan finds light in one of our pitchers having hits and runs scored against him at will, but the fact remains he is working through rust. Although he allowed hits, not all of them were heavy. This is a great sign his spin rate and movement of his pitches are improving.
We have to set aside the lackluster performance for the health of McHugh. However, fans are concerned. We hear all the right things from McHugh. Not only that, a second rehab start has already been scheduled. Regardless of the performance, this is the silver lining.
McHugh will pitch in Corpus Christi this Wednesday, against the NW Arkansas Naturals. We can expect to see him throw 50 pitches or more. Hopefully, we will see more off-speed stuff mixed into his arsenal. Collin uses a fastball, cutter and curveball combination against hitters. On average, he throws the curveball 25% of the time.
McHugh would benefit from being able to throw these pitches in a competitive setting without hesitation. As a pitcher who suffered from elbow discomfort, this is a great sign. The goal is for his mind and body to synchronize so that he can pitch with conviction.
The interesting thing about this start is he will face hitters who have already seen him. This would allow McHugh and the coaching staff to see if he is more effective against the same lineup. As we all know, teams tend to play one another routinely, so this is a way to see if McHugh can challenge the same hitters.
All in all, this is not the ideal scenario for Astros fans. However, with all signs of a healthy return for Collin McHugh, I’d say it is worth the bad stat line. Happy Fourth of July Astros fans!
***Stats and Data Courtesy of Fangraphs, Jake Kaplan, Reese Miller and Mark Berman***