Hughes goes out in style

Game 158: Hughes FTW
Pettitte, shoulder done for the year

A night after officially exiting the AL playoff race, the Yankees got a parting gift. Phil Hughes, who hadn’t pitched what you’d call a good game since April 3, bookended his season with a stellar start. He used 100 pitches to get through eight innings, an impressive 71 of which were strikes. The five hits he surrendered resulted in only two runs, as he helped himself by striking out six and walking none. This was the Phil Hughes we had hoped for.

His best innings were the third, when he disposed of the Jays with nine pitches, and the eighth inning, when he did it with eight. He wasn’t exactly facing world beaters, but you gotta get the job done with those guys. In total, he had four 1-2-3 innings, and never had more than one runner on base at a time.

Leadoff doubles are killer, and Hughes paid the price for it in the first. With Joe Inglett on second and no one out, Marco Scutaro grounded out to second and Alex Rios hit a fly ball to left field, plating Toronto’s first run. Hughes faced the same situation in the fourth when Alex Rios doubled to lead off, but worked out of it by retiring the next three Blue Jays.

His only other blemish came when he hung a curve to Scott Rolen in the bottom of the seventh. That’s what cost him the win, though he certainly deserved it. Problem is, A.J. Burnett did, too. In the end, neither put a tally in the win column. That honor belonged to Jose Veras, who used just ten pitches to record a strike out, a fly out, and a ground out en route to a perfect ninth. Sidney Ponson, in what I guess was a tune-up for Saturday, set down the Jays 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Tonight, Hughes proved what we all know: the kid’s good. What we don’t know is if he can always be this good. It might take some more time before we know for sure. Do the Yankees have the patience? I suppose the answer to that question rides heavily on how the General Manager situation plays out. You know how we at RAB feel, of course.

Much thanks to Bobby Abreu and his 10th-inning grand slam. I’m glad we weren’t tortured by the baseball gods with an extra-innings marathon in a meaningless game. Further thanks to Xavier Nady for proving that yeah, you can drive in runs off A.J. Burnett. Oh, and to Marco Scutaro, for throwing to first for some unbeknownst reason.

This puts the Yanks four games ahead of the Jays with four to play. They’re currently 9-8 on the season against them. I’m not saying finishing in third place is good. I’m just saying I don’t want to finish fourth.

Game 158: Hughes FTW
Pettitte, shoulder done for the year
  • http://www.mvn.com/milb-yankees Ashish Skaria

    Phil Hughes = Big Time Baller

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Ludacris, is that you?

  • pat

    I think alot of people will say this was a lost year for the phranchise but I disagree. For one thing he learned a new pitch and most importantly he learned that if you dont bring your A game every day and hit your spots you will get your head kicked in. hughes seems like the type of kid who would learn alot from the situation about what it really takes to be a successful big leaguer. Hopefully same thing applies to ipk.

    • Steve

      The failure of April showed him he needed to expend his repertoire to get hitters out. He was just going fastball/curve, and thats not enough variety in the bigs. Now he’s mixing in the slider and has added a cutter and change for righties. He’s also keenly aware of the fact that he needs to stay ahead of hitters, something I hope he can explain to IPK.

      I still think that Hughes problem was mostly that he was simply trying too hard. Last year, earlier this year and even that start last week. If that’s the case, then he’ll be fine.

      • Steve

        “expand” his repertoire.

        Wish this place had an edit feature.

  • Ivan

    Phil pitch terrific. Threw alot of strikes and most significantly was putting batters away unlike his last start. Spot the FB very well and other than the HR he gave up against Rolen, his curveball was just nasty, Mike Mussina in his hey day Knuckle-Curve he was throwing. Hughes has the potential to front a rotation when he gets acclimated with to the league and just be healthy.

    • Steve

      I don’t think that Rolen curveball was a big mistake. He hung it a little, but not much. Rolen hit a pretty good pitch. Tip your cap to Rolen, he’s a good hitter.

      There’s a very fine line between throwing a curveball for a strike and hanging one. Judging by his reaction he felt that one was a bit high, but with the nasty movement he has on that pitch I think he’ll get away with more than he gets burned on.

      Plus, solo HR’s never bother me. Great pitchers often let up a lot of them. Look up Randy Johnson or Johan Santana’s HR numbers.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    But… You have to factor into your analysis of Hughes’ outing the fact that the Yankees played Brett Gardner in center, Wilson Betemit at third, Cody Ransom at short, Juan Miranda at first and Chad Moeller at catcher. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez didn’t even play!

    /Lombardi’d

    • dan

      I just read Lombardi’s post…

      He’s actually trying to say that Hughes’ game doesn’t count as much because of his own defense behind him. Not because the Blue Jays trotted out a spring training line-up, but because the Yankees trotted out a spring training line-up. What the fuck is this man on? The kid pitches one hell of a game, and it doesn’t count because it was Ransom, Betemit, and Gardner fielding balls behind him and not Jeter, A-Rod, and Damon.

      I don’t see why anyone reads his blog anymore, unless they’re looking for a good laugh.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I check out what he has to say about Hughes. There’s a part of me that wants to see him continually embarrass himself when he writes about Hughes, I guess it’s the “train-wreck” factor.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

          Again, to reiterate, Phil Hughes sucks because he’s not Chinese.

    • Ivan

      That’s typical Lombardi. He’s the biggest Hughes fan, and reading comments like that (which is just ridiculous on his part) is not surprising.

      • Steve

        Gardner is the best defensive CF we have on the team, by far. That makes no sense at all.

  • eVizions

    I just hope that this outing convinced any Yankee brass who wants to trade Hughes to give him another season. This kid is gonna be special.

    • Steve

      Me too. Definitely not for a position player like McLouth or A-Gon.

  • Accent Shallow

    Not thrilled with the lack of velocity, he seems to be really up and down from start to start.

    Still, if he can throw 90 and go 8 innings/2 runs every time, that’s fine with me.

    • Hitman

      He faced a lineup that even Darrell Rasner has dominated more than once. I’d focus more on the lack of velocity on his fastball which is just really troubling as it has gone down by 2 mph every year since 2006.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        You focus on that because you CHOOSE to focus on that. You think he’s destined to fail so you ignore the positive aspects of his performance (and there were lots) and focus instead on your velocity fetish, despite the fact that velocity is one of the least important components of pitching.

        Now, you’ll probably retort that there are others who think he’s destined for greatness and ignore his velocity concerns, and you’d be right… but there’s a third group, a middle ground who are willing to admit that there’s indicators in both directions, but the majority of them point up. And, there are explanations and reasons for everything, such as what Manimal pointed out below, that Hughes had a rib injury, and something like that can easily affect a pitcher’s ability to throw hard.

        The most important lesson of yesterday, by far, however, is that Phil Hughes attacked hitters, got ahead in the count, threw strikes, and then finished them off with a curveball that is so sick it should be illegal. And even with velocity that you mistakenly claim to be substandard, he dominated.

        Stands to reason that he’ll have a good chance to be a good pitcher, even if he only throws 90 for the rest of his life… (which he probably wont.)

        • Hitman

          I never said Hughes was destined to fail. You’re putting words in my mouth. As for yesterday’s game. It was ONE game against one of the worse offenses in baseball. How one uses one game to measure up a player I don’t know. I’m also tired of hearing all the excuses. This year it’s the rib, last year it was the hamstring and then the ankle. The fact is there were pockets of time where Hughes was perfectly healthy and his velocity was still the same as it always was. Also one has to wonder why he’s getting hurt so often and out for so long in the first place. These are concerns that supposedly your “group” seems to completely ignore. I’m afraid I can’t.

      • mike

        The only reason to watch this game was Hughes’ fastball and the control of his slider, especially since the Yanks fielded a AAA lineup against AJ.

        I agree that his fastball is something to worry about, because while a pitcher can be very successfuly with 90-92 and a variety of pitches, its a different world when the batter has to be looking for 94-95.

        This is not a knock on Hughes, but an observation that perhaps he is not Seaver, but an upside of a young Mussina. That is a compliment to him, but if thats the case it makes not trading him for Santana a little more questionable

        • mike

          slider=cut fastball in my simple comment

    • Manimal

      Do you know what a cracked rib feels like? Theres no splint, or cast, they just let the bone heal. Its constantly rubbing and grinding and it hurts like a Biatch for him to be on the mound is great but hes obviously not going to get his fastbal back that fast. Joba’s was at 93 the other day, doesn’t mean anything.

    • Chris

      He’s throwing a lot of cut fastballs, which come in at about 90mph. That’s a new pitch for him, and may account for some of the apparent loss in velocity.

  • Manimal

    Is this surgery that Matsui had going to be his last? It seems he has surgeries all the time but it always gets worse.

    • Steve

      I think so. His right knee was bad last year, this year the right one was fine but the left one went bad with the same problem. So both should be fine next year.

  • Bart

    Hopefully we can look forward to a full healthy season of Phil Hughes – both for him and the team

    Lot sof notes on tha blog about next year — many show a lack of understanding of the issues facing tis group of Yankees and how to take this group and turn it inot a team for next year and thereafter — I commend Steve Goldman’s Pinstrip Bible Pinstripe blog as a way to begin

    and he does not trash Jeter’s aging D at SS

    http://web.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080729&content_id=1450355&oid=36019&vkey=5

  • kenthadley

    Hughes is only 22….physically, he will continue to grow for the next 5 years, at least in strength…..he can realistically be expected to move into the low 90’s category and stay there for quite a while…..he’s a keeper, and I’d give him, Kennedy (if not traded) and Big Al all a shot at #5 in 2009….Wang, Joba, Mussina or Pettitte, FA, kids…….also now would consider keeping Pavano….if he continues to progress, he’s good insurance or trade fodder (one year contract)….if he does his “Carl” again, it’s not a major investment…..

  • Steve

    I asked this yesterday, but didn’t come up with an answer so I’ll try again.

    Who is Hughes best MLB comp?

    • kenthadley

      when I watched him at Trenton, he looked like a young Tom Seaver…..however, some of that stuff has regressed since he came up (and I know that ancient comparison means nothing to most of the bloggers on this site)….current MLB comparison, something like AJ Burnett as he looked last night (without the 96 MPH sauce)? big deuce, decent command…..

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown.

        • kenthadley

          I bet he was one of your favorites……you can do a lot with 3 fingers…..

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

            Hey now!

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

          Most of those players have been dead for over 100 years, sir.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

            – GET ME STEVEN SPIELBERG!
            – Steven Spielberg’s not available, sir.
            THEN GET ME HIS NON-UNION MEXICAN EQUIVALENT!

    • Steve S

      He reminds me a lot of John Lackey, just a little smaller.

      • kenthadley

        that’s probably a better comparison than AJ….

  • josh

    if he turned out to be lackey i think we all would be really thrilled. if not tex who are the yankees options for 1b next year. has anybody heard any real news onwhat we could get for cano (who would be interested and what they would give up)

  • josh

    also what kind of $$$ would orlando hudson demand/get

    • kenthadley

      Posada, Damon, Matsui, Ransom, plus the kid that played last night…even Nady has played 1B……..I think 1B is one of the last places we need to be concerned about……rather bring in a top notch SP and CF……

    • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

      i would guess you could go 3 or 4 years with hudson, maybe somwhere in teh $8-9 million range AAV at the top, and have no problem reeling him in.

  • josh

    maybe we could sign hudson and move cano to 1b

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      That would be a waste of his above average defense (minus the mental lapses).

  • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

    btw, if you traded him now, you could prob get back any player you wanted in the league available on the market.

    just saying.

  • Bo

    Hughes pitched one good game all year.

    Santana pitched a season worth.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Holy shit. Are you serious?

      • handtius

        I think he’s serious…seriously retarded.

    • mustang

      Oh! Boy you went there good luck my friend,
      Good Luck.

  • Bo

    The troubling thing about Hughes is the velocity of his fastball. Sitting at 92 isn’t a front line starting pitcher.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      And yet, HOLY SHIT, SHOCK OF SHOCKS, what have Met fans been complaining about all year?

      Johan Santana’s velocity is down.

      MULTIPLE INTERROBANGS!??!?!?!??!?!?!??!?!?

      So, you want to go back in time and deal Hughes for Santana because Hughes’s velocity is down, but SANTANA’S VELOCITY IS DOWN. And, you’re not convinced that Hughes can be a frontline starter, like your boy Johan is, despite the fact that Johan, EVEN WITH NOTICEABLY DIMINISHED VELOCITY, has gone 7-0 in the second half with a 2.37 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .231/.283/.362 line, which by your calculations must be FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE since Santana now has DIMINISHED VELOCITY?!?!??!?!??!

      • mustang

        Please don’t go back to the Santana deal.
        LOL

    • handtius

      You nailed it….92 is so slow it’s like batting practice. SHUT UP ABOUT THE DAMN VELOCITY. The boy dominated. Moose throws 84-90 and 19 wins, but velocity is king. What the duck?

    • Zack

      And the troubling thing about you is your brain…

    • Clayton

      Well let’s compare the two (according to pitch f/x data)

      Santana avg. fastball 92.75 mph
      Hughes avg. fastball 92.27 mph

      That 0.5% difference is huge!

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Oh, and by the way…

      Sitting at 92 isn’t a front line starting pitcher.

      Wrong again, pal. Sitting at 92 IS a frontline starting pitcher. From Josh Kalk’s PITCH F/x:

      Pitchers with 92 MPH fastballs:
      Roy Halladay, Rich Harden, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey, Fransisco Liriano, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Johan Santana, Javier Vazquez, Chien Ming Wang.

      Brandon Webb’s hardest pitch is an 88 MPH sinker, and he’s probably the best pitcher in the National League over the past three years.

      Intelligence > Command > Stuff/Movement > Mechanics > Velocity

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

        Bah! Facts! Who needs ’em when we can talk about our hatred for Phil Hughes?

      • handtius

        oh no. you mentioned Javier. He’s no ace. That whole list is bogus! Bogus I tell you!