Friday, August 24, 2012

Collin Mchugh Makes MLB Debut: Scouting Report

Collin Mchugh is a 6-2 right-handed starter that was drafted in the 18th round by the Mets in 2008 out of Berry College. He made his MLB Debut against the Rockies on Thursday. His minor league numbers are solid, with a 3.32 ERA with nearly a strikeout an inning as mainly a starter. This year, he had 12 starts in AA with a 3.04 FIP and then made 12 starts in AAA where he had a 3.84 FIP. Here are my notes on him from both watching him in his debut and looking at his pitch F/X data.

Mchugh was pretty fastball heavy (throwing it 61 times out of 100 pitches). He has a 90-92 MPH fastball that is pretty straight with seemingly a little bit of late spin (and a little backdoor tail on a couple I saw. Pitch F/X called a few of them 2-seamers, but I am just combining them all for ease). He often caught too much of the plate, especially against lefties. He really needs to keep them low to LHB, and it was effective when he did. While he threw some 91-92 MPH fastballs in the first inning, he was mainly (got as low as 88) 89-90 MPH afterward. There is a big difference, as 91-92 is fringe average for a right-hander, while 89-90 MPH is almost unacceptable for a (right-handed) starter unless you have good movement or great breaking pitches.

His second pitch is a 68-71 MPH curve (hit 73 MPH). It is clearly his best pitch. He can throw it for strikes, and it breaks late (not a loopy curve). At it's best, he can freeze hitters with it. When it is in the dirt, he can get whiffs and grounders from lefties.

His 3rd and possibly his worst pitch is a 81-82 MPH looks like slider. It does not have a lot of movement, and stayed up, especially early in the game. At best, it broke a little late, and hit 84 MPH-85 MPH (I am not sure that they were different pitches, but one could possibly say that the 81-82 MPH pitch was more like a changeup). It got better in the 4th when he was throwing it a little harder, and also had more downward movement. Gameday was calling it a curve as well which it most certainly is not. This really screws with the Pitch F/X data. Later in the outing, it regressed back to what it was earlier.

Mchugh's command was solid, and he didn't have control lapses. He looked very polished for a rookie pitcher. He is going to have to rely on his command with that stuff. He was extremely efficient, throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead. In fact, he was downright dominant against the Colorado Rockies. Of course, he is not this good. No one is .96 FIP good (or 1.72 SIERA good). So how good can he be in a sustained role in the Majors?

You really would like to see a better third pitch. He probably can't be a quality starter on his curveball alone and one would expect the more the Majors see his fastball the more it will be exposed. There is also the issue that he has a slightly different release point for one of his breaking pitches (due to the pitch classification mistake, we can't tell if it is the curveball or the slider):

If he was "tipping" his pitches, he most likely would have been destroyed in his outing, so he probably wasn't. You hear about pitchers releasing the ball different on breaking pitches, but in reality, MLB pitchers usually have a consistent release point no matter what the pitch. I am not sure what this means for Mchugh, I just found it interesting.

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