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Heated Observations: Game #3

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How Phil Hughes Worked
Of all starting pitchers who threw more than 100 innings last year, Phil Hughes led the group with a first-pitch strike rate of 71% -- only one of two pitchers who cracked the 70% mark (Arizona’s Patrick Corbin being the other). Naturally, Hughes continued that first-pitch strike tendency in his first start with the Minnesota Twins, turning the count over to 0-1 on 19 of the 24 batters he faced.

Sticking mainly with his heat in the situations (20 of 24), Hughes has been known to flip a get-me-over curveball on the first-pitch (21% of the time last year) however he twisted just one curve in yesterday’s game.

When Hughes had his opponents on the ropes, he turned to his fastball -- a tendency he displayed regularly while with the Yankees. In two-strike situations against the White Sox, Hughes targeted the upper portion of the zone and above, getting five of his seven strikeouts on the high heat (as shown below).

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Trevor Plouffe and the Other Direction
No one will ever claim that Trevor Plouffe’s bread-and-butter was taking a pitch the other way. After all, when Plouffe went on his home run binge a few years back, all of those pitches were yanked into the left field seats. Yet, so far this year, Plouffe has six hits and four of which have been to RIGHT field.

Here’s the interesting part: When Plouffe did go the other way last year, it was mostly on flies and pops. Those pitches were ones he was fooled on and fought off -- mostly sliders and fastballs down and away:

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This season, Plouffe has DRIVEN pitches that have been up in the zone, shooting line drives to right field:

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Plouffe having success going the other way? What’s next, cats sleeping with dogs?

Anyone Heard of Chris Colabello?
Starting the year 5-for-10 with three doubles (ok, one may have been a gift) and six RBIs is a strong way to jump out of the gate for Chris Colabello.

This spring Colabello spoke about how he was approaching his at bats and said that he moved back off the plate in the minor leagues when teams began to attack him on the inner-half. Last year he didn’t see too many pitches on the inside portion of the plate so he inched up closer to stay in the same zip code as where pitchers were targeting him.

Here is his pitch frequency chart from 2013:

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Away, away and more away. This year the modus operandi has been the same:

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What’s more is that the big right-hander has seen almost exclusively fastballs. It will be interesting to see how teams change their approach against Colabello as his success continues.

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Thanks to the Twins come back win over the White Sox on Thursday, you can get 50% off a Large of Extra Large pizza on Friday when you use the “wintwins” promotion code at PapaJohns.com.
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