Discovering Hudson

I knew my Henry Hudson bobblehead would come in handy.
I knew my bobblehead would come in handy.
If you want to get an idea of Daniel Hudson’s potential, look no further than how he pitched Joe Mauer. You know, the soon-to-be American League MVP, two-time batting champ, current league leader in batting average, OBP and slugging percentage.
It’s not just that he held Mauer hitless. It’s that he got Mauer to hit a weak grounder to the left side with a runner on third, failing to drive in the run. Mauer rarely hits grounders to the left side.
It’s that he got Mauer to swing through a second consecutive changeup after he tracked one that was too low and too away.
It’s that, with the count full, he busted Mauer twice inside — getting a check-swing foul the first time, and a jam shot that fell harmlessly into Gordon Beckham’s mitt in foul territory the second.
He even dared throwing a slider low and in on Mauer. It’s his third-best pitch and doesn’t have a lot of life on it yet, but he put it in the perfect place, and it looked like a strike just long enough for Mauer to commit and roll it over to Chris Getz for a 4-3.
That’s the potential that Hudson has, and he was pretty consistent in showing it throughout his first major-league start. Unfortunately, at no point during Hudson’s five ultimately successful innings did anybody else bother joining him.
At this point, Hudson is only a two-pitch pitcher, but he pitched like he had four on Monday night. I mentioned the slider to Mauer, but he was more daring on his sequence to Michael Cuddyer in the third inning.
Hudson has the least confidence in his curveball, calling it a show-me pitch. He definitely gives it away, throwing it from a much higher arm slot, so he uses it sparingly to keep it on the hitter’s mind.
Well, he kept it on Cuddyer’s mind, because he threw it three times over the course of four pitches. It was almost one pitch too many, because Cuddyer went from swinging through it to taking it to taking it to deep center. Scott Podsednik flagged it down just in front of the warning track.
He probably wouldn’t be wise to do that often — at least not to a hitter of Cuddyer’s caliber — but it showed some balls to go at a guy with your lamest weapon three times, and with conviction.
The next inning (next batter, actually), he threw four different pitches to Delmon Young in succession. He missed with a fastball, missed with a slider, came back with a fastball that Young took for 2-1. Young swung through a changeup for strike two, then watched as Hudson clipped the corner with his curve for the backwards K. As a further testament to his unconventionality, he also threw a lot of 3-2 changeups, taking a page from the Mark Buehrle Playbook, perhaps.
There are a couple things he can work on immediately, without needing a more reliable third pitch.
No. 1: Changeup location. He can learn from the way he went back-to-back with the change on Mauer. The first started on the edge and dove well out of the zone before Mauer would even consider swinging. He corrected himself immediately on the second one, and it turned into the classic now-it’s-a-strike-now-it’s-not dive. It almost has a screwball’s movement, it’s that dramatic, and he should be able to harness it.
No. 2: Working up in the zone to lefties. Mauer wasn’t the only one who had trouble getting around and on top of Hudson’s belly-high offerings. Denard Span could only foul it back, Nick Punto corkscrewed himself into the ground, and Jason Kubel swung through it all evening.
Hudson’s delivery is unusual, and it seemed like lefties had a harder time getting a read on it. The low arm slot made his high heaters more tempting. Problem is, Hudson prefers to work around the knees, and had some location issues when A.J. Pierzynski raised the mitt. He’ll have to work on exploring that part of the zone more, now that he has to use the whole thing against major-league hitters.
Against righties, his preferred plan of attack is probably the wiser choice if Cuddyer’s final at-bat was any indication. With an 0-2 count, Hudson threw a fastball right in Pierzynski’s glove — center of the plate, letter high. Cuddyer was able to get on top of it and ground it past Getz for an RBI single (although a good second baseman probably keeps it in the infield at the very least). At any rate, it sure it nice when a young pitcher’s problem is keeping the ball down too much.
That’s basically the story of Hudson’s first start. Every negative can feasibly be shaped into positive with work — even the second inning, the only frame in which his pitching can take the blame. He got ahead of guys with his fastball, but couldn’t make his changeup look enough like a strike to get the third strike or weak ball in play. After Don Cooper’s mound visit, he seemed to throw it more aggressively. He threw 30 of his 98 pitches in the second, but with a little work, he can get an extra inning’s worth of efficiency.
If there’s one reason to be down on him, it was his throw after fielding Orlando Cabrera’s bunt. He already inherited Clayton Richard’s status as “surprise minor-league pitcher of the year” and his No. 54 — did he have to assume his mad throwing skills as well?
I digress. Having seen what Hudson can do against a lefty-heavy lineup, it would be nice to see him take his chances against a lineup with some right-handed power before the season’s up. He mixed in his changeup to righties more often than you would normally see, but against the Miguel Cabreras of the league, it would probably behoove the Sox to see where exactly he is with his slider and curve as they prepare an offseason workout plan.
That offseason workout plan will probably include a cutter, if every other White Sox pitcher is any indication.  As the Cheat says, maybe he should get together with Jake Peavy a few times this winter.
J.J. at White Sox Examiner also breaks down Hudson’s start.
****************************
I’m tempted to change my voicemail so it says, “Hi, this is Jim. Like the hanger said to Jermaine Dye, ‘You just missed me.'”
Monday night was more of the same, with Dye going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a tap out to the mound with a runner on third. Boos rained down on Dye for the first time in his Sox career.
Ozzie Guillen didn’t go out of his way to defend Dye. When asked whether he was surprised that Dye inspired that reaction, Guillen said that fans showed plenty of respect by waiting this long to unleash their fury.
Greg Walker tried a little bit harder, but even he’s out of answers, resorting to the “back of the baseball card” cliché we know and love him for.
With 10 games left, Guillen says he’s going to go younger. Sadly, unless the Sox have designs to shut down Carlos Quentin and his knee that may need surgery, getting Dye playing time would have to be the last priority when it comes to figuring out the shape of the 2010 roster.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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paul

I watched bits and pieces of the game and would like to see another start from Hudson. What did kind of piss me off is having Pods and Dye in the outfield, as I would have put a better fielding team out there for a rookie’s first start. I mean, c’mon, Rios would have caught that bloop OCab triple in the first.
I hope Walker’s gone next year, and the same goes for Dye. Walk doesn’t get results and Dye has too much old-age-maybe-fit-for-platoon-player downside risk that doesn’t seem to fit well with the Rios acquisition…and hopefully a new hitting coach can help Alex figure his problems out.

knoxfire30

My first reaction to Hudson is his “stuff” looked fantastic, and hopefully the wildness was more nerves then anything else. But his fastball has life, his slider even though it was his 3rd pitch was still a quality offering and his changeup could certainly become an out pitch. 6 foot 4 righties who fill out to about 225 lbs and throw 94 with 4 pitches usually dont last to the 5th round so hats off for the sox seeing something noone else did.
I am actually thinking that hudson wont be taught the cutter for 2 reasons. 1 his natural movement is pretty solid and he is already nails on lefties because of it. 2 I am very nervous about his delivery he is a dragger of the arm, he almost locks out his elbow and almost all his torque comes around against his elbow and under his shoulder. I dont like that, thats a torn labrum or elbow blowout waiting to happen. Hopefully they clean some of that up in the offseason.
STAT OF THE DAY: At the end of august the US unemployment rate came in at an estimated 9.7%, Greg Walker was not included in that number, amazing!!!!!!

knoxfire30

Oh and not to over react to another shutout last night but to repeat my thoughts at the beginning of the year and what it has been for a while. The whitesox need to things to win this division, 1 lots of homers, 2 good starting pitching. Pretty sure we are going to have the starting pitching going into 2010, not sure where the power can come from but a trade for Adam Dunn or signing a power bat is seeming to be more and more of a need.
Bad defense, bad situational hitting, bad baserunning, can be overcome to an extent when you simply mash the ball, esepcially at home and what will remain a below average divsion.

soxfan1

I agree with knoxfire again (this is scary). We need hitting in order to contend in 2010. I don’t think it will come from Dye or Quentin. We need to cut bait with Dye,he may be done. Quentin will be back but he is so banged up (knees & feet) he may never again approach his 2009 stats. Kenny needs to get creative again. Crawford or Upton will be available from the Rays. Or how about busting the bank for Matt Holiday?? Not sure who else may be on Kenny’s radar screen (Abreu, Figgins) but we need some of his magic to go after a couple of big sticks.

striker

I was watching our 17th (?) shutout of the season last night and I thought “who really deserves to stick around?”. The entire team has sucked offensively. If the price was right I’d be willing to give up Quentin even. The only ones I’d keep around are Getz or Nix and Beckham.
I’m really hoping for Abreu, but his price tag could skyrocket.

striker

Hudson did good, but what do we do with him? I’d rather see him #5 and spend Garcia’s $1-2mil elsewhere. If not #5 then bullpen or trade him.

striker

I would spend the savings from Garcia on a reliever. I’d rather see Hudson #5 + FA reliever than Garcia #5 and Hudson relieving or Hudson in AAA.

knoxfire30

You really think 1 mil, is gonna prevent the sox from making a move for a reliever???

knoxfire30

They paid colon 1 mil this year, they paid wilson betemit 1.3 to do what again, and they even gave dwayne wise 550,000.
1 mil is nothing for what looks like a very servicable 5th starter. Its a must that they exercize that option no matter what the plan is for the rotation or bullpen.

knoxfire30

where to start good god
1. AJ, Konerko, Beckham, Getz, and Pods have been solid offensively. Rios is gonna be here due to his contract no matter what, thome is already gone, dye will soon join him. Why would you sell on Quentin this low, he makes very little salary has shown big offensive prowless and will have the offseason to take care of his bum ankle and knee, at a minimum he deserves 1 more full year.
2. Are you nuts??? Picking up Garcia’s option at this point will be the smartest move of the offseason. Numerous teams would already give him more then that due to his performance with the sox, the sox need him, and having extra starting pitching is NEVER NEVER a bad thing. At a minimum you could suggest picking up the Garcia option and then trading him, but not picking it up would be completely retarded.

knoxfire30

I should point out Kotsay has done a nice job offensively as well, and I hope he is back as a 4th outfielder, backup 1b, backup dh type of guy who plays a decent amount without being a starter.

pander

Kotsay – new Ross Gload

striker


I’d just rather see Hudson pitch than Garcia. I’m not saying Hudson is better, I’ve always been biased to see the younger arms. I’m not saying $1mil for a reliever, I’m saying $1mil towards a reliever. And at $1mil Garcia is a steal, so put Hudson in the bullpen. I just don’t want to see him in AAA.
@knox
I forgot to mention that I too think Rios isn’t going anywhere nor would I move him. Pods has played his butt off too. I suppose just getting rid of Dye and Thome will help. I’m just sick of Konerko and I think Ramirez can bring something in return to fill another hole, like a relief pitcher. I bet Nix could outperform Ramirez offensively.

knoxfire30

Konerko will get shopped, typically I am an anti Konerko guy but his season has been absolutely fine, nothing special but fine. Ramirez is odd cause im not sure if his numbers are going to be more like 08 or 09 in the future, if he could combine the strengths of both those years he would be almost untradable at his current salary.
Nix cant play short or third so I dont know how moving Ramirez out and Nix in helps the lineup or the defense.
You dont want Garcia back because you want a relief pitcher, you want to trade Ramirez for a relief pitcher, ect ect I know the bullpen needs help but trading reliable assets or not signing quality assets to take a shot at trying to sure up the most unpredictable aspect of a baseball team (the bullpen) will likely have devastating results.

striker

Jim, what are you planning on blogging about in the offseason? I have some ideas if you want to hear them.

K8T

Sat and Sun recaps are a go. I’ll email them to you each night.