The headline above is the question I asked myself all night last night. I poured over every pitch he threw, looked for patterns, created a spreadsheet and tried to prove out a couple of theories. It turns out, I didn't need to do all of that work. The answer is simple. Since coming back from the DL, Hughes has become a two-pitch pitcher.
Last night, Hughes threw 63 fastballs, 25 curves and only 5 change-ups. None of the changes were for strikes. He didn't throw one slider.
If I had to guess, the scouting report on Hughes looks something like this, "Sit on his fastball, because he's around the plate. Don't swing at the curve before two strikes, he has trouble getting it over. No third pitch."
I don't know why he isn't using the change, maybe he doesn't have the feel for it. Maybe he lost confidence in it when one got hit hard. Whatever the reason, he needs to bring it back to his arsenal. To be successful with only two pitches, they both need to be dominant, at the very least, you need to be able to throw both for strikes consistently.
I don't think Phil's spot in the rotation is in danger, just yet. I do, however, think he and Gator need to do some work over the next three days to build up his confidence in a third pitch, either the change or the slider. If I was working with him, I'd work on the change. Guys are sitting on his fastball, the change is the ultimate remedy for that.