The report on Phil Hughes’s Wednesday startBy
Wednesday was an ugly, ugly day in the Bronx. Ticking timebomb Sidney Ponson lasted just four and two-thirds, surrendering four runs on seven hits and four walks, en route to an eventual blowout. Yes, Sir Sidney has had his share of quality starts for the Yanks, and it’s tough to overlook his contribution to the team in August. However, we knew what we were getting when we brough this guy in for the Mets doubleheader back in June. He has the potential to take your team right out of the game. When you having him pitching in front of a Yanks offense which has had trouble scoring runs, you’re leaving yourself prone to disaster.
Many question whether Sid should start Monday’s makeup game in Detroit. After all, the team is clinging to a root as they dangle off the cliff of contention. Why let Sidney go out there and face another meltdown? Many fans have moved on, and don’t really care one way or another who starts. The game could very well mean nothing, so starting Ponson wouldn’t be the worst idea. However, if the Yanks somehow run off three wins against the Jays this weekend, they might be inclined to make a push. To do that, they might have to sub out Ponson.
Lined up perfectly is none other than Phil Hughes. He hasn’t seen a major league mound since April, after going down with a rib injury that seemingly took far too long to heal. After a few quality starts in the minors, Hughes hit a hiccup for two starts in August. Chad Jennings talked to Chad Moeller regarding his start from last Friday:
He said Hughes’ curveball was missing by too much, he couldn’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes, and he wasn’t commanding his fastball within the strikezone. Too many bad strikes over the middle of the plate, not enough on the edges. That’s what it looked like to me, but it’s always nice to get some sort of confirmation from within the clubhouse.
Hughes had all of the Bison hitters, included Victor Martinez, looking foolish against his 75 MPH curveball. Delivered with a 15+ MPH difference from his fastball and some serious drop, Hughes used this as his out pitch with two strikes. It is very similar in speed and movement to the curve that Clayton Kershaw throws over in LA. His fastball, which stayed consistant at around 92, has good movement. As advertised Hughes had great command, striking out 7 while only walking 1.
The best news is the curveball. If Hughes is going to succeed at the major league level, he’s going to need the curve. He’ll probably need the change and the slider, too, but having just a 92 mph fastball won’t cut it.
So do you bring up Hughes for Monday? It’s a no-cost move; rosters expand that day, so you don’t have to DFA or option someone. The other side of the coin is that it might be in the team’s best long-term interest to have him continue pitching in the AAA playoffs, and only bring him up afterward, and at that point only to increase his innings totals. At this point, given his two stinkers prior to this, I think one more start in the minors wouldn’t hurt. If the Yanks sweep and Boston gets swept this weekend, maybe we can revisit this conversation Sunday night.