An MMO Fan Shot by Jack Ganchrow
As the old saying goes the first one is always the hardest. Collin McHugh learned that the hard way going 607 days before getting his first major league win. Between coming out of the bullpen and starting, McHugh lost his first eight decisions across his first two seasons. It took him until his third big league team to get that coveted first win.
In his major league debut for the Mets he pitched a gem going seven scoreless innings only giving up two hits and striking out nine against the Rockies (the Mets lost that game 1-0). After that it was pretty much all down hill in his rookie campaign. In eight 2012 Collin McHugh appearances (4 starts, 4 relief) the Mets posted an 0-8 record.
McHugh had a humble beginning to his career but it started before he even played professional baseball. He was born in the wealthiest city in the Midwest, 28 miles west of Chicago, Naperville, Illinois. He went to Providence Christian Academy (Lilburn, GA) for high school, total number of Major leaguers from there not named McHugh, none. Not recruited by D1 schools McHugh attended D-III Berry College, (Mount Berry, GA) number of major leaguers to attend not named McHugh, none.
McHugh heard 553 names called before the Mets made him their 18th round selection in the 2008 MLB draft. Being told he wasn’t good enough was the theme of McHugh’s pre-professional career.
Collin’s first four years in the minors got him through most of the Mets lower system, stopping through Kingsport, Brooklyn, Savannah, St. Lucie, and finishing his 2011 season in Double-A Binghamton.
The following season in 2012, McHugh was promoted to Triple-A in June and eventually made his major league debut on August 23, 2012, pitching his gem against the Rockies.
In 2013 he was up and down from Las Vegas until he was ultimately traded for Eric Young Jr. on June 18, and ended his Mets career with 11 appearances (5 starts, 6 in relief). He went 0-5 with an 8.25 ERA and the Mets were also 0-11 in games that he pitched in.
His career with the Rockies was a disaster. He was assigned to Double-A Tulsa to start and had two solid starts, before he moved up to Colorado Springs (AAA Rockies) where he made three more starts until he made his Rockies debut on July 27, 2013. It didn’t go as well as his Mets debut did.
He was demoted after taking the loss (now 0-6 lifetime record with his teams 0-12 in his appearances). After spending the entire month of August in AAA, McHugh was called back up in September even though he didn’t have such a productive August. He made three starts, going 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA (the Rockies did win one start so he finally snapped his team losing every game he pitched in streak).
After pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League in October, McHugh was DFAed by the Rockies on December 16, 2013.
On December 17, 2013 Collin McHugh was a 26-year old kid without a team and had a career record of 0-8 to go with an ERA of 8.94. His major league career was in jeopardy.
However the very next day, the Houston Astros claimed McHugh off waivers as rotation insurance. He didn’t make the Opening Day roster, but after three Triple-A starts, the Astros called him up to replace Scott Feldman who was placed on the disabled list.
The date was April 22, 2014, the opponent, the Seattle Mariners, and Collin McHugh finally got his first career win.
It wasn’t an ordinary win though, McHugh’s Astros debut was historic. In that start Collin he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings striking out 12 Mariners. Only J.R Richard in 1971 struck out more in an Astros debut (15).
After starting the season 4-3 McHugh lost his next six decisions. At 4-9 with a 3.45 ERA (which is still very good) many wondered if McHugh was back down to earth for good. That is when he really turned it on, his last ten starts he went 7-0 while lowering his ERA to 2.73. It was an incredible way to end a remarkable turnaround season.
One thing Collin McHugh was always successful at was writing his blog. It is called A Day Older, A Day Wiser, and he shares his ups and downs about baseball and life, and it’s another reason that makes him such a likable guy.
So here we are in 2015, and so far, Collin McHugh is 4-0 and in his six starts the Astros have a 6-0 record, a far cry from how his career started. He has won his last 11 decisions. 2015 was also the first Opening Day roster he ever made and hopefully there will be many more in the future.
When I was in Houston last summer at an Astros game, I was there for BP and I saw Collin walking toward the dugout. I shouted for him to come over and he did just that, signing the baseball card I had of him as a Met, as well as taking a picture with me. As a Mets fan I always rooted for Collin, and even though he didn’t perform for us, he gave it his all and it’s great to see him tasting success now.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Jack Ganchrow. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.