Phil 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.