Jaffe: Phil Hughes and the sobering history of thoracic outlet injuries

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on May 23, 2018:

The Twins designated Phil Hughes for assignment on Monday, bringing to an apparent end the 31-year-old righty’s five-year run with the team and perhaps marking the end of his 12-year big league career. On a superficial level, his is a tale of a big-money contract gone wrong, as the Minnesota media — which knows red meat when it sees it, as fan perception of Joe Mauer’s long decline phase attests — was quick to take note of the team’s $22.6 million remaining salary commitment. On a deeper level, Hughes’ tenure with the team is a reminder of the fragility of pitchers’ bodies in general, and the ravages of thoracic outlet syndrome, for which Hughes underwent surgery not once but twice. The annals of such surgeries feature few happy endings.

Hughes had thrown just 12 innings this year, allowing four home runs while being pummeled for a 6.75 ERA and a 7.62 FIP. After starting the year on the disabled list due to an oblique strain, he returned on April 22 and failed to escape the fourth inning in either of his two starts. Sent to the bullpen, he made five appearances, the last three each separated by one day of rest. While his average fastball velocity (90.4 mph according to Pitch Info) was back up to where it was in 2015, his last reasonably healthy season, it sounds as though manager Paul Molitor felt hamstrung when it came to finding situations in which to use him.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/phil-hughes-and-the-sobering-history-of-thoracic-outlet-injuries/

Originally published: May 25, 2018. Last Updated: May 25, 2018.