Sitting at 96 mph, Hudson’s primary pitch is the four-seamer, with the righty throwing the pitch 63.1% of the time in 2019. Not a strikeout pitch—with a 9.1% SwStr and 20.0% K-rate—Hudson is at his best when he’s able to locate his plus velocity, in order to set up some very good secondaries.
Thrown just 6% of the time—almost exclusively to left-handers—Hudson’s changeup proved to be an effective neutralizer versus left-handers, with batters only managing a 0.50 AVG against it (.166 xBA). It was great put-away pitch as well, with a 26.1% K-rate—though it only carried a 9.9% swinging-strike rate.
It seemed that Hudson’s fastball took full advantage of an L.A. Wellness Retreat in 2018 while with the Dodgers. Hudson flashed the best control of his career with the pitch, and it had superb results. Hitters batted .191 against it (the lowest of Hudson’s career), he only allowed two home runs off the pitch (the lowest since his rookie year), and it had the highest swinging-strike rate (12.1%) of his career. Maybe a plant-rich diet will be next for Hudson in 2019.
In 2017, Hudson’s slider was dominant, but his four-seamer lacked. The script flipped in 2018, mainly due to a lack of movement, as he lost two inches on it. Batters did not chase as much (38.5% O-swing in 2017 to 32.1% in 2018), and they missed less (17.5% swinging-strike rate to 14.7%). This led to a spike in home runs (0 HRs allowed in 2017 to 4 HRs allowed in 2018).
Hudson’s changeup has gradually gained velocity every year since his debut in 2009 (84.6 average mph to 86.3 average mph), but he trusts it less than ever. For the first time in his career, Hudson had a swinging-strike rate under 10% with this pitch, and his usage dropped to a career-low 5%.