One of the most surprising stories of the 2014 season is the emergence of Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh. After bouncing between the Mets and Rockies, McHugh was claimed by the Astros last offseason, banking on his promising numbers in AAA, despite carrying a 10.04 ERA and a very low 3.81 strikeouts per nine during his 26.0 IP during his 2013 stint in the majors.
Houston made out like a bandit, as McHugh has been the ace of their staff since getting his chance when Scott Feldman was placed on the disabled list in April. He struck out 12 batters in his debut against Seattle and has maintained an elite 10.15 strikeouts per nine with a solid 3.33 FIP and 1.08 WHIP this season.
McHugh’s repertoire features a heavily dosage of breaking pitches, relying on a mix of his curveball and slider over 50 percent of the time. The result? A slider with 8.6 runs above average and a curveball with 6.4 runs above average.
Here’s a look at his filthy curveball as he struck out Reid Brignac with a big hook on Thursday:
Looking deeper at McHugh, there are indications that his success may be limited. His batted ball profile displays a high line drive rate (24.8 percent) mixed with a low groundball rate (39.4 percent). Furthermore, his 8.4 walk percentage and low .260 BABIP suggest that if he is unable to continue his incredible 27.7 percent strikeout rate, he will run into trouble quickly.
Regardless of his future, Collin McHugh is turning heads in 2014 with an incredible mix of breaking pitches. Let’s hope it can continue.
Nick Pollack writes for Pitcher GIFs and can found making an excessive amount of GIFs on Twitter @PitcherGIFs.