Santana, Hughes: AL Starting Pitchers

On a night when Ricky Romero was a Desmond Jennings‘ home run away from a no-hitter, when the White Sox were thankful that the rain saved them from three more innings of Phil Hughes, and when David Huff held down the potent Red Sox’s offense only to be being demoted for his troubles, perhaps the most surprising pitching line came courtesy of the Angels’ Ervin Santana. The right-hander shutdown the Twins en route to the first complete game following a no-hitter since Tommy Greene did it for the 1991 Phillies, for a line of 9 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

It isn’t at all uncommon for a pitcher to struggle after a no-hitter or perfect game: Francisco Liriano lasted just three innings against the Tigers after throwing a season high 123 pitches in no-hitting the White Sox and Edwin Jackson made it out of the sixth inning just once in the month after his 149-pitch no-no. Two factors helped Santana avoid their fate on Tuesday. First, his no-hitter wasn’t as strenuous as many no-hitters are; he threw just 105 pitches, barely above his season average of 102. Second, the Twins didn’t exactly wear him out with their approach. While Santana did tie a season high with 121 pitches, he got seven first or second pitch outs and had innings of just seven, eight, nine, and 11 pitches. Santana has given up more than three runs in an outing just once in his last nine starts, but he’s rostered in 89 percent of ESPN leagues and 72 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so it’s worth checking if he’s on the wire, especially in shallow leagues.

While it’s unlikely that Santana or Romero (owned in 89 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 100 percent of ESPN leagues) are available to you, Tuesday’s other impressive AL starter probably is. Phil Hughes (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 24 percent of ESPN leagues) was cruising against the White Sox before rain shortened his start, as he needed just 65 pitches to make it through the sixth inning. He has three quality starts in four outings since the All-Star break, but isn’t yet logging many innings in his starts, which is why his low pitch count last time out is especially notable.

Hughes is still relying heavily on his four-seam fastball, and hasn’t yet gotten his cutter back to it previously effective state. The key for Hughes -— and the point at which he returns to being a solid fantasy options —- is his feel for his secondary pitches, both his cut-fastball and curveball. Until his command comes back, hitters can simply wait for Hughes to throw fastballs if he gets into trouble. While his four-seamer is good, it isn’t good enough to consistently beat hitters who are waiting for it.

Despite Tuesday’s good start, Hughes still isn’t showing enough to be worth adding in shallow or even normal mixed leagues, though in AL-only or deep mixed, he may be a worthy gamble -— especially since his next three starts are against the Angels, Royals, and Twins. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping an eye on his next start, if he can keep his pitch counts low and show improvement in his secondary offerings, he could be a solid addition to a team with playoff aspirations.



Print This Post

Dan enjoys black tea, imperial IPAs, and any competition that can be loosely judged a sport. Follow him on Twitter.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Francisco Liriano
Guest
Francisco Liriano

I got traded?

mattinm
Guest
mattinm

Huh?

SKob
Guest

Didn’t think so, but I know you can’t read!

wpDiscuz