NEW YORK—Righthander Collin McHugh had never experienced anything like this past September. A spot starter in the season's final month, he learned to deal with a right arm turned weary from more than 160 innings.
"It's not so much soreness or even a conscious thing," McHugh 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 spoke in between appearances, having struggled in his two most recent starts. The 25-year-old struck out nine Rockies during seven scoreless innings in a sterling Aug. 23 debut, but when pitted against the Cardinals and Nationals, two of the league's best offenses, he allowed a combined nine runs in eight innings.
He realized he needed to command his low-90s fastball, curveball and slider in order to survive at the highest level.
Even so, McHugh represents one of the organization's most unheralded—but dogged—prospects. In a combined 25 starts for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo this year he went 7-8, 2.91 with 135 strikeouts and 46 walks in 148 innings.
An 18th-rounder from Berry (Ga.) in 2008, McHugh probably will begin next season in the Triple-A rotation, where he'll be on call in case a Mets starter goes down with injury.
McHugh has used his big league time this year to soak up whatever knowledge he could during, and he felt like he was learning.
"I think the key is to stick to your routine," McHugh said. "Stick to those things you do well. Just try to focus that extra little bit. Take an extra second on the mound just to say, 'This is the pitch I want to make.' Stop. Visualize it. And make it happen."
• The Mets signed a player-development contract with Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, trading places with the Blue Jays. Toronto moves from Vegas to Buffalo, the Mets' home for the past four seasons.
• Center fielder Brandon Nimmo, the team's first-round pick in 2011, showed signs of potential but still great room for improvement with short-season Brooklyn. He batted .248/.372/.406 with six homers in 266 at-bats, ranking third in the NYP with 28 extra-base hits and second with 46 walks.