Phil Hughes Taking Reggie Jackson’s Advice: Relax

Via the NY Post:

In late September, Mr. October stopped by Phil Hughes‘ locker for a chat. Hughes was preparing for a Sept. 26 start against the Red Sox, and the Yankees’ wild card lead was dwindling because of a four-game losing streak.

Originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday, the Yankees pushed Hughes up to Sunday and bumped Dustin Moseley.

“He told me to relax. I was coming off some starts that were forgettable,” Hughes said. “He told me to do what I usually do. I took a lot from that. I hadn’t talked to him one-on-one too much. Anytime a guy like that talks you have to listen.”

Since talking to Jackson, who wasn’t in Minnesota because of a back problem, Hughes has thrived. He beat the Red Sox with six innings of one-run pitching, grabbed a victory in relief at Fenway and was brilliant against the Twins in Game 3 of the ALDS Saturday night when he threw seven shutout innings in his first postseason start.

Usually I don’t like to put much stock into claims like this after just two starts, but in Hughes’ last two starts he has been phenomenal. We’re talking the same domination that he showed in April and May when he started off 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

Hughes’ next start could be the biggest of the playoffs. He’s likely to make it in game no. 3 against Cliff Lee in Yankee Stadium on Monday. If he shows up relaxed in that early season form that could be the key to winning the series. If he’s the guy we saw going deep into counts and having trouble finishing off batters, the Yankees will struggle to put the Rangers away.

Reggie was obviously known for being a huge performer in October, let’s hope some of that really did rub off on Hughes.

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4 Responses to Phil Hughes Taking Reggie Jackson’s Advice: Relax

  1. Mike S. says:

    Actually, if I were Girardi, I would set up Hughes in 2 and 6 and have Pettitte in 3 and 7 vs. Lee.

    Here is a reason why (besides going L/R/L/R). Games 2 and 6 are both in Texas. Check out Hughes career numbers:

    Hughes: in 3 g vs. the Rangers, 2 starts, Hughes is 2-0, 0.00, with 13 K in 15 1/3 IP. ALL of these games were in Texas. Oh yeah, the # of hits given up? A total of THREE.

    We can only hope the trend continues…

  2. Good thoughts Mike. I would like to say though that Hughes's numbers against the Rangers are probably too small a sample size to draw a real conclusion from.

    Also, I think that Pettitte gives you a better chance to win game 2 and if the Yankees could go into game 3 with a 2-0 lead that would be huge. I think the Rangers probably have a great chance to win games 3 and 4. If the Yankees can go up 2-0 then they could handle losing two more in a row and still have a strong chance to win the series.

    That's my thinking in wanting Pettitte to go in game 2 and Hughes in game 3.

  3. Matt says:

    I'm with Mike on this – I go with Hughes in game 2. I like Pettitte better at handling the *additional* pressure of facing Lee. That said, Rob, your points are good and it could conceivably play out better with Hughes going in 3.

    The Yankees can beat Lee. It seems that whenever they face him the Yankees starter gets hit. It's like the Chuck Finley syndrome in the 90s.