Phil Hughes‘ start on Thursday night started off terribly as he allowed four unearned runs in the 1st inning following an error by Eduardo Nunez. He then settled in and pitched a strong 2nd through 5th innings.
Unfortunately he went out for the 6th inning and it was the same old bad Hughes. He went ahead of Justin Morneau 0-2 before eventually walking him and then proceeded to give up a two-run home run to Ryan Doumit that knocked him out of the game after 104 pitches and just 5.1 innings.
It wasn’t a good start, but it wasn’t awful either. Hughes’ himself probably described it best.
“I felt like my stuff was good,” Hughes told Vincent Mercogliano of the Journal News. “Fastball was pretty good, and my curveball was probably the best that its been in a while. There’s some encouraging things. It’s far from a good outing, but still some positives that I can look at.”
One of the positives was that Hughes was able to make a mid-game adjustment and settle down rather quickly. It’s something that he usually is unable to do in the middle of a start.
The biggest problem continues to be his inability to go deep into a game, which stems from an inability to finish off hitters, and his loss of velocity throughout the game. His fastball was lively early on, nearly touching 94 mph, according to Pitch F/X, but ht couldn’t hit 92 by the 5th inning.
Even if he pulls it together and manages to avoid the big innings, it seems doubtful that he will be able to get deep into games on a regular basis. He might not have the stamina for it as it was troubling seeing him unravel so quickly.
Hughes did pitch well enough to fend off having a ton of Yankees fans breathing down his neck demanding David Phelps to take his rotation spot. Even if he does manage to fend off Phelps, Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda are right behind him.