So maybe that didn’t go quite as well as we hoped, but Phil Hughes’ Major League debut was decidedly not terrible. We’ll break it down over the course of the next day, and it looks now as though Hughes will start on Tuesday in Texas. For now, I want to bring you a few points from 20-year-old Phil Hughes’ first Major League start, Sergio Leone style.
The Good: In between a bad first inning and a bad fifth inning, Phil Hughes looked pretty good. As Steve at WasWatching.com noted, Hughes did a masterful job getting out the Blue Jays’ B hitters. And his strike out rate is now better than that of any other Yankee starter. His 5 strike outs in 4.1 innings translate into around 10 K/9 IP. With a 5:1 K:BB ratio, those are some fantastic peripherals. Hughes put these numbers up against a Blue Jay team that is league average in strike outs. The Rangers, his next opponent, are more frequent whiffers.
The Bad: Hughes had a very rocky first inning. It took him 27 pitches to get out of his first Major League inning. I would probably chalk that one up to nerves, and we’ll have to see how he does in Texas. But he also struggled against the All Stars in the Blue Jays lineup. Vernon Wells was 3-for-3, and Frank Thomas knocked in two runs. Hughes’ 7 hits in 4.1 innings isn’t too good, but throughout his career, his first start at a new level has always been a struggle. He was victimized by a tight strike zone and a bad call at first base too. We’ll see how he does next week against the Rangers. He’ll have to develop some more trust in his breaking pitches, and he’ll have to throw more strikes early on. Those are your keys to next week’s Phil Hughes start.
The Ugly: Doug Mientkiewicz went 0-for-3 tonight batting in …. the Number 2 spot?!?! What the $#*& is that all about? Dougie Baseball is currently hitting .152 with a .250 OBP and a slugging percentage at around .250. He’s 3 for his last 17, and that actually raised his batting average. So what does Joe Torre? He plugs him into a key spot in the lineup. Instead of going with Robinson Cano to avoid a lineup of three lefties in a row, instead of ever using Josh Phelps, Torre bats Mr. Automatic Out in the two hole, giving him four costly plate appearances. Doug Mientkiewicz with a negative MLV and a negative VORP is actually detracting from the Yankees’ offensive output. I’m dumbstruck by his presence in the Number 2 hole.