The problem with Huff is that even though he has average or above-average velocity, he can’t throw his fastball by anyone, and if he doesn’t hit the black, he’s in big trouble. I don’t know what it is, but either he has no movement, he doesn’t hide the ball well, or he doesn’t throw on a downward plane (probably some combination of all 3), but I think it’s less telling to look at what the radar gun says and more telling what the hitters say with their swings.
The hope is that Huff can figure things out like Cliff Lee did, and possibly become a homeless man’s version of him. Huff has a smooth delivery and is a good athlete, similar to Lee. But what Lee did was make his fastball an amazing pitch – he learned to throw it more on a downhill plane, and with great command. His velocity also improved. He went from being incredibly hittable to being very tough to hit. Look at Lee’s fastball value in 2008…34.2! Lee didn’t become the pitcher he is now because he started to throw his cutter more (as I’ve read in some posts). In fact, he didn’t throw it any more often in 2008 than before (since the trade from Cleveland, he’s thrown it a lot more).
Huff has real poor fastball values these past two years (-13.8 and -11.3), and until that changes, nothing will really improve. Because it’s tough to survive in the big leagues if you are afraid to throw a fastball. But once that improves, your other pitches improve as well. Or at least, the hitters react to them differently because they’re worried about your fastball.
So while looking at the radar gun is fine, let’s see if he can do the other things required to make his fastball less hittable.