McHugh always dreamed of pitching in Turner Field. He was a Braves fan growing up in Georgia. His favorites included Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux.
And Collin realized that dream late in the 2012 season, while pitching for the Mets in Atlanta.
McHugh was asked about his draft day experience.
"My parents and I were sitting around the family room on Day 2 of the draft," Collin said. "I was listening to it on the radio while my dad was following it on the computer. I had just exclaimed that I was bored, to turn the radio off and watch the Braves game. My dad called me over to the computer subtly and showed me my name next to the Mets logo, 18th round. It was pretty surreal! My mom looked over at us and started crying. I guess she saw it all over my face."
Collin is married to wife Ashley, who has encouraged him and been supportive along the way. They like spending the offseason with family and going to their favorite restaurants in and around Atlanta.
He starts working out around the holidays. And he lifts "pitching-specific" weights, swims and goes biking. He doesn't like distance running, but does it on an "as needed" basis.
- McHugh has a blog called "A Day Older, A Day Wiser," in which he shares insight into the life of a professional baseball player.
- In the spring of 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook had McHugh as the 24th-best prospect in the Mets' organization. It was his first time in the book in his six-year career.
Movie—Good Will Hunting
Food—whatever his wife, Ashley puts on the table. "She's a killer chef," McHugh said.
- Collin's brother, Evan McHugh, is a singer/songwriter based out of Nashville.
- McHugh was called up on August 22, 2012 and he made his MLB debut on August 23 against the Rockies at Citi Field. He pitched 7 scoreless innings and got 9 strikeouts while surrendering 2 hits and a walk. But the Mets lost 1-0.
McHugh grew up in a musical family in Georgia, the third of four children of Scott and Teresa McHugh. His older brother and sister, Evan and Eryn, are songwriters in Nashville. And his youngest brother, Colby, is a film major at Georgia State University.
"I'm the dumb jock of the family," McHugh joked.
The righthander has some artistic talents as well. McHugh grew up playing instruments like the clarinet and saxophone, and he has dabbled in the drums and now plays the guitar and ukulele.
You can hardly tell when he's on the mound, but Collin is one of the few pitchers in the Major Leagues who wears protective head gear. About halfway through 2014, McHugh started wearing a protective pad inside his cap that can't be seen from the outside and protects the right side of his head if a ball is hit back at him.
The pad, a rectangular piece of Kevlar with some padding on the inside, was developed by SST Baseball, which is owned by McHugh's high school teammate, Matt Meier. It fits inside the cap and goes across the front panel.
"It covers that spot [that's exposed] when you rotate," McHugh said. "It's hard to get the glove back up there, and the vast majority of injuries happen on that side. Hopefully, I'll never have to see if it works or not. I think it's a great product and something I'll probably never stop wearing."
McHugh hasn't been struck in the head by a batted ball but said that it's always in the back of a pitcher's mind. The pad gives him some peace of mind.
"You try not to think about it," he said. "Having something in place just in case is a nice little reassurance. If you get hit in the head, it's never going to be a pleasant experience. If it's the difference in going to the hospital or not, I'll take my chances [and use the pad]."
Meier had been using the device with high school kids the past couple of years and asked McHugh if he would be interested in wearing it. As of last season, pitchers are allowed to wear bulky protective caps, but they haven't caught on. The pad McHugh wears is hardly noticeable.
"I think pitchers need something like that, some kind of protection, so it was the perfect chance for me to try it out and see how I feel about it," he said. "After a couple of bullpens of playing catch with it, I really felt comfortable with it." (McTaggart - mlb.com - 4/20/15)
McHugh survived financially through the minors in part because of wife Ashley, who has had her own design company since 2010.
- Collin and his wife, Ashley, had a son, Shaw, in the 2015 offseason.
June 19, 2016: As McHugh prepares to celebrate his first Father's Day following the birth of his son in the offseason, he's looking forward to spending some time with his father, as well, and rejoicing in what they've accomplished and what's ahead.
Scott McHugh and his wife, Teresa—who will join Collin, his wife, Ashley, and their son, Shaw, in Houston for Father's Day—helped mold McHugh into one of the most well-rounded and versatile men in baseball. They're looking forward to sharing a special Father's Day, which falls on Collin's 29th birthday. "There will be three generations of McHughs right there," Collin said. "That's something pretty special."
That's also a lot of resiliency in one place. Collin struggled to keep his career afloat for several years before sticking with the Astros, and Scott has been battling prostate cancer for more than two years. He's symptom free, Collin said, but that didn't stop the pitcher from joining veteran Jason Motte's "Let's Strike Out Cancer." Collin is the Astros' representative and helps sell "K Cancer" T-shirts, which raise money for the Jason Motte Foundation and a charity of the player's choosing. For Collin, it's MD Anderson Cancer Center.
"It's done some great things in cancer research and treatment, and my dad's going to be there the next couple of weeks consulting with some of the doctors there," Collin said. "We've got some great charities, some great institutions that are really being helped out by this." (B McTaggart - MLB.com - June 19, 2016)
Collin was born in Naperville, Illinois, and lived there for seven years before the family relocated to the Atlanta area, which is where he grew up. His parents started a nondenominational church in Alpharetta, Georgia.
His mother worked at Providence Christian Academy as the head receptionist at the school, which is where McHugh attended beginning in the sixth grade. He started playing baseball in high school at Providence Christian. But growing up, Collin played nearly every sport, with the exception of football. "Baseball for him started at 4 years old," Scott said. "He loved every sport, but he had an affinity for pitching. I was a left-handed pitcher in my day, but it wasn't cool to play baseball in my high school, so I played football. I struck out 13 in one game, and he beat me when he was in the sixth grade, but early on, he just loved baseball."
Growing up in Atlanta, the family would attend Braves games together and revel in the magic of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. Father and son shared the game together and talked pitching. "It's nostalgic when look I back at it and think of not only the success the Braves had and us being able to watch it, but me being able to track along with those guys as I was growing up, too," Collin said.
That's what made the events leading up to McHugh's Major League debut so special. Drafted in the 18th round by the Mets in 2008, he toiled in New York's system before finally getting the call and making his Major League debut on Aug. 23, 2012, against the Rockies. He threw seven scoreless innings, striking out nine while allowing just two hits and one walk.
"I got the nod from our skipper saying, 'You're going to the big leagues,'" McHugh said. "First call was to Ashley, who was just down the street at our apartment, and the next call was to my dad and let him know, 'Hey, it's happening. How quickly can we get tickets? How quickly can we get up there?'"
McHugh got knocked around early in his career and wasn't sure he would make it, but the Astros selected him off waivers, and he started 25 games in 2014 and went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA. Last year, he went 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts.
"It was him and my mom the whole way, taking me to baseball games, taking me to basketball games and soccer games," McHugh said. "I was never really good at entertaining myself growing up, so I need some sort of sport to kind of keep me going, and they were there the whole time." (B McTaggart - MLB.com - June 19, 2016)
Dec 23, 2016: If pitcher Collin McHugh isn't the most interesting man in the world, he's certainly the most interesting player on the Astros. Who else can play the ukulele, clarinet, guitar and drums, is an avid reader and occasionally smokes a pipe? And, he has proven to be a pretty good pitcher, too. He's gone 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA in 90 starts with the Astros over the past three years, including 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA in 2016. He took some time to answer some questions from MLB.com about his holiday traditions:
MLB.com: What were the holidays like for you growing up? McHugh: "Lots of family time. We would always do Christmas morning with my immediate family (parents and three siblings). But I also have six aunts and uncles, 13 first cousins and too many second cousins to count. And we all get together every year around Christmas at my grandparents' house. It's been a tradition for my entire life, and there seems to be no end in sight."
MLB.com: I know you come from a musical family, and are the son of a pastor. What was that experience like around Christmas? McHugh: "Growing up, we always had a Christmas-music service at the church. There would be hymns, traditional Christmas songs and if everyone was lucky, I would get up and do a solo in front of the congregation. I'd wear a festive sweater and totally kill it."
MLB.com: Was there a certain gift you got as a kid that still stands out to this day? McHugh: "My parents got me a drum set when I was in sixth grade. I came downstairs and it was all set up in my section of the living room. Having four kids, my parents probably saved a fortune by sorting (instead of wrapping) gifts on Christmas morning. I would play that set in the basement daily, which in retrospect, probably drove everyone in the house nuts."
MLB.com: Now that you're a dad, what kind of memories would you like to create for your son? McHugh: "I truly believe that the most important thing about Christmas morning is the proper technique to opening presents. Too many people are polite with their unwrapping of gifts. They meticulously pull the tape away from the edges and unwrap without tearing the paper. The one thing I will teach my son is to tear the paper like a crazy person. It was always my favorite part of the day, and I'd like to pass that along. ... Oh, and baby Jesus, peace, good will toward men, etc."
MLB.com: What kind of gifts do you hope to get this year? McHugh: "I've been told that I am hard to buy gifts for. Apparently, if I want something bad enough I just get it for myself. That being the case, I've asked Santa to bring me back my receding hair line. I can't seem to find a store that sells it." (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Dec 23, 2016)
- June 2009: McHugh signed with scout Marlin McPhail of the Mets after they chose him in the 18th round, out of Berry College in Georgia.
- June 19, 2013: The Rockies sent Eric Young to the Mets, acquiring McHugh.
- December 18, 2013: The Astros claimed McHugh off waivers from the Rockies.
|Birth City:||Naperville, IL|
|Draft:||Mets #18 - 2008 - Out of Berry College (GA)|
- McHugh has an 88-92 mph FASTBALL with tailing action in to righthanded hitters. He also has a basic CUTTER that he keeps inside on leftie batters. His top secondary pitch is a tight 84-86 mph SLIDER with horizontal break, and a 71-73 mph CURVEBALL with looser break. It can change hitters' eye levels. He also has a basic 80-81 mph CHANGEUP without much movement.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 33.3% of the time; Sinker 2.2% of the time; Change 5.4%; Slider .5%; Curve 29.6%; and Cutter 29% of the time.
- Collin has a rather irregular motion, with a long release that requires steadfast attention to mechanics.
- Near the end of the 2012 season, McHugh spoke about learning to deal with a right arm turned weary from more than 160 innings.
"It's not so much soreness or even a conscious thing," Collin said, "but maybe your arm angle starts to drop a little bit. It finds the path of least resistance.
"And then your mechanics just start to break down, just a little bit to where you see the ball not quite doing the same things, not quite having the same bite."
McHugh is a bulldog on the mound.
August 23, 2012: Collin threw seven scoreless innings, but a fielding mistake by center fielder Jordany Valdespin in the eighth led to a 1-0 loss to the Rockies in McHugh's Major League debut. He allowed only two hits, walked one, and struck out nine. He left with the game scoreless after throwing 100 pitches and received a no-decision.
"The anticipation's the hardest part, for sure," McHugh said. "But once the clock starts ticking and you realize you'v done this a thousand times before, you get the ball in your hand and start playing catch."
2014 Season: McHugh gave Houston 16 quality starts in 25 tries while logging the lowest WHIP (1.02) of any rookie with at least 100 innings. The secret to his success: He leaned more heavily on his breaking stuff that season, while adding a tick to his fastball (91 mph) and two ticks to his curveball (73 mph).
McHugh has a world-class curveball. Most curves spin at about 1,500 times per minute; McHugh’s spins 2,000 times. The more spin, the more the ball moves during the pitch, and the more likely batters are to miss it. Houston snapped him up.
“We identified him as someone whose surface statistics might not indicate his true value.”
Sportswriter Joe Vasile from SB Nation made an interesting observation in his column, in which he wrote, “McHugh uses his slider an astounding 44.6 percent of his pitches, and his curve 22.5 percent of the time. His fastball checks in at only 27.2 percent of his pitches. This pitch selection makes McHugh one of the most unique pitchers in baseball.” (May 12, 2015)
In 2015, Collin had the second-lowest Exit Velocity (MPH) in MLB—only 86.21 mph, as tracked by StatCast-Amazon.(Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies had EV/MPH of 86.06 for #1.)
As of the start of the 2017 season, McHugh had a 43-34 career record, a 4.13 ERA having allowed 68 home runs and 602 hits in 590 innings.
- July 7, 2014: McHugh was on the D.L. with a right middle finger nail avulsion.