Phil Hughes Gets Loss in Return to Rotation

phil-hughesPhil Hughes made his first start for the Yankees since September on Wednesday night after he was put on the DL with shoulder inflammation. He threw 88 pitches over five innings and allowed two earned runs, both in the first inning.

It was encouraging to see him keep the Indians from scoring after his rough inning in the first, but he is far from 100 percent. He was able to hit 93 in this game, but not once after the first inning. There is also the issue of Hughes not being able to put away hitters with two strikes and his inability to get swinging strikes. 25 of his pitches were fouled off and he got just two swinging strikes, only one on a fastball.

There was a small bit of a difference in Hughes. He normally relies heavily on his fastball and cutter during games using them 80 percent of the time last year. Wednesday night he mixed his curveball and changeup in more often. This is probably a good sign as Hughes will need to become more of a pitcher rather than just a fireballer if he’s going to last as a starter. He clearly can’t just beat anybody with a straight fastball anymore so he’s going to need that offspeed stuff.

This is just a first start though. Some rust is expected. Hopefully he is able to go deeper into the game in his next start and maybe up to 110 pitches in his third start. He’ll also need to start holding his velocity deeper into games as well.

It’s April all over again for Hughes. Hopefully he’ll round into form in no time.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

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14 Responses to Phil Hughes Gets Loss in Return to Rotation

  1. Mike Sommer says:

    I liked his curve better than anything else. Forget the 89 vs. 93 in velocity. What I saw was a fastball that (like before) was too straight. No movement. 93 as opposed will help somewhat. What would help more would be some movement on that fastball. Too straight. Good point once again on the inability to finish off hitters. Maybe a sinker or forkball (split finger) needs to be added to his repertoire.

  2. smurfy says:

    I agree with both Rob and Mike, except I wouldn't look for his revival to be soon. More like next year, observing loosely the similar Verducci effect cases of Verlander and Hamels. Better for Phil to adjust expectations, and concentrate on building repertoire and command. Innings 2 – 4 showed he can do that. Being out of options, I'd suggest a bullpen role, couple middle innings at a time to test his developing pitches.

    I would look to trade for SF's Baumgartner and Detroit's Porcello, both similar cases, having a rough time this year.

  3. Will says:

    I wish they had left Hughes in the minors to dominate Double A players. This may have increased his trade value and they could have packaged him with the idea that someone else would think they can salvage him. Now that they brought him back up, he is once again exposed as not having ML stuff and has no value on the trade market or in the rotation. He did not look good last night, or should I say much different, than earlier in the year and really, why should he? All he did was take 82 days off which is basically what he did during the off-season. Painful to have kept him considering what they could have traded him for.

    • I couldn't disagree more. First of all Hughes was a huge part of the 2009 team so trading him before that doesn't work for me. Since then the Yankees have never been in a position to even be able to trade him. They weren't going to trade him after the 2009 season and after the 2010 season they needed him too much.

      Also, keeping him in the minors now would KILL not help his trade value. The only possible way they could trade him now would be if he regained his 2009-early 2010 form and if he does that they are going to keep him anyway. Otherwise trading him now represents trading low and they wouldn't get much, if anything, for him anyway so they might as well just hang on to him.

      This is not a video game, this is real life. Guys can't just be traded whenever you want them to be.

  4. Will says:

    2009 he was gone come October. Not sure if it was pressure or dead arm again, but he was useless in the playoffs/series. 2010 he was good for 6 weeks and then had a 5+ era for the rest of the year. Came back for one gem against the Twins and then looked like a minor leaguer against the Rangers. In addition, checking the splits, a good potion of his 2010 wins were against weak teams. Whether it be the Yanks misguided 'development plan', a case of an over-hyped 1st round draft pick (2006 #1 prospect by BBA) or a combo, this guy has not been anything close to what he was made out to be.

    As for being traded, he was there for the trading from about 2006 except for each year that he was assured a rotation spot and blew it each time (2008 and 2010). Sorry but my frustration level with the blind allegiance to him is at an all time high. Baseball intelligence and analysis-wise, he is and has been a bust. There is little evidence to suggest that he will ever be a viable ML starter.

    • Damn, you give up on young pitchers awfully quickly. I can't imagine you would have even had patience for Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. Don't give up on these guys too quickly. Patience.

  5. yankeepride says:

    I think Hughes problem is in his head…he needs to be a man and see a therapist…if you think Burnett gets down on himself, Hughes takes the cake…he sometimes looks depressed, maybe some happy pills will help…just a thought…

    • Huh? I would have to say that Hughes seems like one of the most laid back pitchers I've ever seen. Especially considering he has come up under intense media spotlight. Yup, he's a laid back California guy. Seen hundreds of interviews, I've even interviewed him myself and never has he come across as a headcase or depressed.

  6. smurfy says:

    Hey, you want a little new news? As reported on the authoritative MLB Live show tonight, featuring Matt Vasgergian, Mitch, T. Verducci and Jerry Manuel (I gotta name 'em all because I do not know who said whut), Brian Sabean is looking to trade young, lefthanded pitching of the ilk that Will or Yankeepride would leave by the roadside. Unavailable? Not so much. Maybe Sabean agrees.

    Oh, but you're probably not interested. I'll just go, and … eat some hay. Or goat, if I am lucky.

    • You might not be 100 percent wrong, but I think you misinterpreted what they said. The Giants are in 1st place and are looking to ADD not SUBTRACT players. Latest I heard was that Sabean was reluctant to deal any of his starters. And really, why would he? Except maybe Zito. Were they talking about Barry Zito?

      • smurfy says:

        They said he "was willing to deal." Verducci mentioned young left-handers, Bumgarner and Sanchez, I think. But, he has to be trying to tempt Alderson to rent him Reyes.

  7. yankeepride says:

    maybe Sabean is looking for his next job while Cashman figures out his next move…Sabean isn't going anywhere nor are his top pitchers as well as top prospects…Jonathan Sanchez is not on the block and the Giants are looking to add…

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