Tim Hudson is starting for the San Francisco Giants, in Game Three of the National League Championship Series, Tuesday night at AT&T Park, the first time he has ever made an appearance in this event in his distinguished career. After posting a win/loss record this season, that is below the .500 mark for the first time over the course of an entire season, what might fans expect from this All-Star performer, yearning to pitch in his first world series?
Expect Hudson to perform in like manner to his vintage start against Washington in the National League Division Series. Facing Jordan Zimmerman and the National League’s best team, the Washington Nationals, in the chilly fall night, all Hudson did was hurl seven-and-a-third innings of one-run ball, allowing seven hits, and striking out eight. He did not walk a batter.
When the 2014 season first opened, Hudson ran off a string of impressive starts that were noted for his impeccable control, but as the season wore on, his control wore down, and his hip flared up. He was in the midst of an 0-3 September, with a 9.92 ERA, when he threw a bullpen session on the sidelines with Dave Righetti in attendance.
Henry Schulman, of the Chronicle, had this to write the following day, on September 23rd, “Dave Righetti said the issue with Hudson is the sinker not sinking because he is not finishing his pitches on a straight line to the plate. A sinkerballer who starts on the first-base side of the rubber and ‘pulls off’ his line will leave balls up and over the plate, and they will flatten rather than dive.”
Sep 7, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (33) talks to starting pitcher Tim Hudson (17) and catcher Buster Posey (28) in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Hudson had struggled against the Padres, and more noticeably, against the Dodgers, when he lasted only one inning. Was age catching up to Hudson? Was he flailing at success, in one last Herculian effort to make it to the Big Show? Or was it simply time for a tune-up?
Righetti is famous for his quick tuneups, while you wait, particularly when it comes to the postseason. He “adjusted” Madison Bumgarner before the 2012 World Series, after MadBum struggled in the two previous playoff series. Righetti made similar adjustments to Santiago Casilla and Ryan Vogelsong, and he has an ongoing contract with Tim Lincecum, who is currently in the shop.
It is safe to assume that the bullpen session with Righetti, was successful, based on Hudson’s start in Washington. One stellar start, does not guarantee anything, but it bodes well. It is also safe to assume that Tim Hudson still has a very strong desire to pitch on baseball’s greatest stage. Combine these two elements, along with everything else in the Giants’ chemistry beaker, and expect a reaction that produces a victory for the Giants, and satisfaction for Tim Hudson.