Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hudson Making 'Magical' Turnaround

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hudson Making 'Magical' Turnaround

Article excerpt

On the top shelf in right-hander Daniel Hudson's locker sits Jobu, the voodoo doll worshiped by slugger's Pedro Cerrano in the movie "Major League." Hudson's wife, Sara, sent the doll to PNC Park earlier this month. She hoped it would at least bring a smile to her husband's face, and perhaps help him out of a funk on the pitcher's mound in his first season in Pittsburgh.

Maybe Jobu had the magic touch.

After an April in which Hudson, the Pirates' top external acquisition this winter, emerged with a 9.90 ERA, he dropped into lower-leverage situations this month, conceding his eighth-inning role at times for opportunities to pitch more often, and has posted a 1.74 ERA in May.

"Sometimes when you're not getting results there, you try to do too much and things get out of whack," Hudson said over the weekend. "We sat down and decided to get me more game reps in not-so-high-leverage spots. Knock on wood. Everything has gone well so far."

The conversation came the day after Hudson struck out three New York Mets hitters over two perfect innings. He spent just 19 pitches to get six outs. In five appearances since walking three of five batters May 14 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team for whom Hudson played from 2011-16, he has struck out seven in 5? innings, with three hits and one walk.

His fastball has found the strike zone more often, and his slider arrived, too.

"I was joking with somebody [that] it took six weeks for it to show up," Hudson said.

The difference lately has been drastic.

In his first 18 appearances - from the season opener to the meltdown in Arizona - Hudson surrendered 13 earned runs on 22 hits and 8 walks in 15 innings - a full 2.00 WHIP.

Even his good days in the first month of the season were frustrating, since he seemed to run up his pitch count to where his availability was in question for the next game. In April, Hudson averaged 20.9 pitches per inning. In May, it dropped to 15.19. In his past five games . 12.19.

After Hudson threw a pick-off try away May 1, leading to his first loss this season, he tweeted, "Can't even throw the [bleeping] thing to 1st. …

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