Are lost games worth the gamble on Hughes?

Yankees rally back for walk-off win against O's
Mailbag: Colon, Options, Nady Trade, Big Three
(Kathy Willens/AP)

The questions were coming at some point or another. I’m sure when Joe Girardi sat down for his post-game news conference he was wondering who would be the first to ask. “Joe, what are you going to do about Phil Hughes?” As we’ve seen countless times before, Girardi basically said that he didn’t know at the moment. I don’t know why he can’t just say, “That’s an important decision, guys, and it’s not one I’m prepared to make or comment on immediately after the game.” It would get the point across concretely: the Yankees do face an important decision about Phil Hughes’s immediate future.

While Hughes’s velocity did not return — his four-seamer averaged around 89 mph and topped out at just under 91 — he did appear to control it a bit better. It wasn’t great control, but definitely an improvement. He threw 46 of them, 32 for strikes and two for swinging strikes. The only time he really got hurt on it was when Cesar Izturis slapped one, and when he didn’t run it inside enough on Nick Markakis. Hughes’s curveball also broke more sharply than in his previous starts. He threw that 11 times for eight strikes and two swinging strikes. It graded out as his best pitch, per the linear weights scores on Brooks Baseball, despite its relatively infrequent use. The changeup, too, worked, at least in terms of results, as he threw it six times, five for strikes, and didn’t really get beat.

The issue, as we’ve seen in his previous two starts, was the cutter. In the two instances he got beat the worst, the Markakis homer and the Luke Scott double, he attempted to throw a cutter, but, as he said after the game, it kinda just spun and didn’t move. That is, it looked like a fat, straight, 85 mph fastball. Thankfully, Hughes threw it just seven times, so he knows that it’s not his best option. But it appears that it probably shouldn’t be an option at all at this point.

When deciding what to do with Hughes, the Yankees have to answer a number of questions. The first, and most important, is whether they think, with a strong degree of certainty, that continuing to pitch at the major league level is the absolute best way for Hughes to recover. If they aren’t reasonably certain that it’s the course of action that will lead to the best result, they have to strongly consider removing him from the rotation. Not every game will go like last night. Many times, maybe even most times, the Yanks will fall short in that comeback attempt. An ineffective Hughes is putting them in deep holes, and if he continues pitching this way it will lead to many more losses. That’s not something that any contending team can afford.

There are questions affixed to this, too. Last night the cutter was the big, and perhaps only, problem. Can Hughes get through an order two or three times with just his four-seamer, curveball, and changeup? Can he get his cutter working without throwing it live to hitters? If the Yankees think the answer is yes, or could be yes, I can see them sticking with him. If not, that’s another sign that he needs to work on his issues elsewhere.

My biggest concern is that Hughes is simply overworking himself. Last season he shouldered an unprecedented workload. I’m not sure what he did in the off-season, but if he kept his normal training regimen, he might be overtrained at this point. It would go a long way in explaining the dip in velocity. If this is the case — and at this point it’s nothing more than a pet theory — the only way he’s going to regain that strength is by backing off a bit. That means a trip to extended spring training where he can take it easy and then build himself back up. That’s kind of a dramatic measure, but if he’s overtrained it might be the only thing that gets him back on course this season.

If that’s not the case, I’m not sure what the Yankees can do. It’s clear that he’s better off junking the cutter for right now, since it has gotten battered around in his first three starts. Does that leave him with an arsenal adequate enough to get through major league lineups? I’m not convinced, since I haven’t seen it. But I think the Yankees will be curious enough to give it a shot, at least one more time through. Maybe if he’s forced into a situation where he needs to break off over a dozen curveballs and changeups in a game he can get those pitches working.

Chances are the Yankees won’t take rash action here. Hughes is an important part of the organization, and this has only been three starts. They might skip him for a few days, but that’s the most I can see them doing this time around. If he gets battered again next time, then they might have to do something. I just fear that overtraining is an issue here, since the only way to recover is to rest. That creates more holes in an already rough rotation.

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Yankees rally back for walk-off win against O's
Mailbag: Colon, Options, Nady Trade, Big Three
  • Jorge

    In my completely non-scientific opinion, I can’t see how this is anything other than being overworked, which is why I tend to be less concerned here for him in the long term. I actually wouldn’t mind the extended spring training option if one of the grizzled vets sitting in AAA can get the job done over the short term.

    A competent AJ Burnett and Ivan Nova are going to go a long way here in easing the burden, and thank Mo almighty that is what we’re mostly seeing thus far.

    • Jericho Spade

      Again, you cant know for sure from the outside, but it sure as hell looks like the 80 IP jump from last year, had given him a really tired arm. The fear is now that he tries so hard to overcompensate for the lost velocity that he injures himself. If they let him keep pitching like this it would be really stupid.

      Ex ST seems like the best option by far at this point.

  • MikeD

    In answer to your headline: Yes.

  • http://twitter.com/reywtf Rey22

    Can Hughes still be sent to the minors? Does he still have options?

    • Ted Nelson

      He has two options, but if they place him on the DL I’m not sure they’d even have to use one to send him to extended spring training and then maybe a few rehab starts in the minors.

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    remember, verlander kinda blew in 08. and then, pow, verlander again. just saying

    • A fan

      Definitely. Many don’t remember, but there were articles on ESPN claiming his goose was cooked 1 month into that season.

      Pitchers get hurt. They suck for awhile. They recover. Look what happened to Buchholz, Verlander, or even Hughes. Sometimes young pitchers have to rebuild their stuff and adjust. Part of the process.

      By the way, why do the Yankees seemingly have a ‘trusted’ starter completely blow up in their faces every season. Last year, it was Javier Vasquez, the year before it was Wang. These early-season rotation struggles are getting a bit annoying.

      • Big Apple

        its not just the yanks…every team seems to have that issue.

      • Zack

        I’m sure Cardinal fans feel real bad for us

    • theyankeewarrior

      Verlander was an ace before that season, though.

      Hughes has never approached the kind of dominance that Verlander did before 2008.

    • Rick in Boston

      Verlander’s lost velocity also came in his age 25 season.

    • matt

      While I do think the analogy works on the level that we’re talking about guys who in form (if not in spirit) have been handled basically per the Verducci rule (not that that’s gospel – and people often forget, the “rule” isn’t just a correlation between innings and injury it’s between innings and injury and/or significant performance drop-off)and are seeing their velocity drop and performance suffer without any indication of injury.

      Obviously 10,1 IP is an awfully SSS, but it does span three starts and I apologize for being lazy and not actually looking, but I can’t imagine Verlander’s ever had three consecutive starts that were this across the board bad. Conceivable that he threw to a close to 14 over three starts, but I doubt it. Verlander’s “down” year was a 3.4 WAR season of 201 IP ball, allowing only 185 H, striking out more than 7 per 9 and working to a 4.18 IP. I know you’re not saying Hughes is as good as Verlander, but even so, I think people fall back on that Verlander year a bit too much.

      With Phil, I wish it were just the velocity. It’s the nearly 2 hits per IP, more BB than Ks, the absurdly low K ratio, the SLG. against. It’s about as full form a regression as I’ve seen over an offseason and I agree with Mike, the workload is really the answer that makes sense.

      All that said, I manage to find myself feeling pretty relaxed about the situation, I believe Phil’s gonna be alright, he’ll never be a #1, but if his career line looks like his ’10 line, that’s an awfully nice pitcher. I think he desperately needs a month relaxing in Tampa. It just makes all the sense in the world. Lessen the workload and also better focus the workload. Maybe dabble with a splitter for a fun, it’s not a substitute for a change, lord knows Phil throws enough fastballs, but he needs another pitch to neutralize lefties and the change doesn’t seem to be talking. He could also just work on a variant of the 12-6 curve, not that everybody can just throw an AJ Burnett curveball, but something with a bit more bite that breaks hard away from lefties. Then the backdoor will open up again for the cutter. He needs to be able to get in on lefties too, which is why you’d like to see the cutter improve, but when right, his four seamer might have enough life, maybe just run it in or go back to using the slider he used to use way back when.

  • Big Apple

    Halladay also sucked for a few years…there is still hope.

    • It’sATarp

      Halladay got sent to the minors to completely rework his mechanics and pitches. They basically took him and remade him into a completely different pitcher…(same with Cliff lee) I highly doubt we’re going to do that with hughes

      • Big Apple

        if he ain’t injured then why not try it…

        • It’sATarp

          well it basically says hughe’s year is over…

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Because that’s a major, major step to take.

    • matt

      +1 – the concerns are real, but there’s all the reason in the world for hope. What I have trouble figuring out is how he got so far away from the plus plus breaking stuff he was throwing back in ’06 and pre-hammy ’07. Maybe I’m just seeing things in that respect, but to me, the curve never had quite the bite it had after that hammy in TX and by the postseason last year it was just a sloppy slurve. I still get sick thinking one second before it happened “there’s no freaking way he gets another hanging slurve past Vlad”. Just getting the curve back to a plus pitch would work wonders, let alone a change. I get the rationale for the cutter, he doesn’t talk naturally to a change so he wants to cut to get in and lefties and back door them, but he badly needs something that breaks hard away from lefties, you can miss away on those pitches and you get them back and you’re in a better place even if you miss in. Miss in with a backdoor cut and the ball’s on a tee for a lefty.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I’m leaning toward skipping him a turn in the rotation, seeing if that mini-breather helps him, and give him one more start after that. If his velocity and location is still bad then, you’ve probably gotta pull the plug and send him down to Tampa to rehab/rebuild.

    Let Colon have Phil’s next start, have Noesi back him up. If Hughes bombs the following start, you can send him down, 60-day-DL Feliciano, and add Millwood or Silva to take Colon’s role as longman/emergency starter (or, theoretically, move both Colon and Noesi into the rotation, move Garcia to longman, and add Andy Sisco or Mark Prior).

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Doesn’t Hughes have to be placed on waivers to be sent down?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Yeah, both Joba and Hughes have to clear revocable waivers to be sent down since they’ve passed their 3 year anniversaries of being called up.

        I think Mike stated before that those types of waivers are a mere formality, though, that there’s sort of a gentleman’s agreement that teams don’t put claims in on other teams sending down their optionable young players in circumstances like this. So it’s probably not a big deal.

        • Rick in Boston

          I could see Theo trying to get him off waivers. Theo’s broken gentlemen’s agreements before (grabbing Millar when his contract was getting sold to Japan), and there is a need in Boston for pitchers.

          • Zack

            That’d be payback for Cashman ruining Chris Carter’s career two years ago.

            In all seriousness, never heard of this gentlemen’s agreement before – but why would Pirates/Royals/etc ever agree to go along with that? There’s no gentlemen’s agreement that bigger clubs won’t overbid for FAs on small market teams.

            • Ted Nelson

              Because the waivers are revocable… You can’t actually get the player, you can only stop the other team from sending the player down. If Boston (or whoever) does that to the Yankees when they want to rehab someone, the Yankees will turn around and do it to them… a vicious cycle would emerge where no one could clear a guy that way. So, no one messes with other teams that way so that other teams don’t mess with them.

              • Rick in Boston

                As I mentioned below, there’s also the issue that MLB can deny them a DL spot. If he gets claimed, they have no choice but to try and get MLB to accept a “dead arm” or a fabricated injury, which means Hughes won’t be taking the mound for a while because the league will be looking over their shoulder. Good if the issue is rest, bad if the issue is mechanics or not enough work.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Huh? They don’t need to put him on the DL because he has two options.

                  • Rick in Boston

                    Not if another team screws around and tries to grab him on waivers. Then the Yankees have to pull him back.

          • Ted Nelson

            The point is that Theo can’t grab a guy on revocable waivers, because the Yankees can revoke it…

            • Ted Nelson

              And with 2 options remaining, does he have to be placed on revocable waivers? I suppose it depends whether it’s a rehab assignment or a 20+ day minor league stint?

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                If he’s sent down from the DL with a rehab assignment, no, he wouldn’t need waivers, because he wouldn’t be optioned down.

                We’d have to formally put him on the DL, though, and that requires an actual quantifiable injury.

                For a simple demotion without injury, the options aren’t the issue, it’s that he’s passed the three year anniversary of his callup, so he has to go through a revocable waiver process before his option can be used. (Which, again, seems to be just a formality.)

                • Ted Nelson

                  Interesting, thanks.

              • Rick in Boston

                He does if he’s down longer than what you mentioned. Also, he’d have to be optioned if the league denies them a 15-day DL assignment. MLB has gotten a bit stricter about legitimately proving someone is injured before they can be put on the DL.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              That.

              Breaking a gentleman’s agreement to actually obtain Hughes would make sense. But Theo has no way of actually obtaining Hughes, all he’d be breaking the agreement for is to piss off the Yankees and force them to keep him in the majors. That’s not a worthwhile enough reason to break an agreement and invite all the other clubs to do the same to you.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          You don’t think the Red Sox would do it? They are obsessed with the Yankees.

          If Aceves was a Tiger he probably wouldn’t have gotten him.

      • JZ

        Nope. He’s still got two options.
        http://riveraveblues.com/2011/.....any-44067/

    • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

      I am fine with skipping him a start especially because the schedule allows it and because Colon is throwing so well right now. But I think Hughes deserves a longer rope than 1 more start post-skip to prove that he’s still an option moving forward in the near term.

      As shitty as he was last night he looked better than his first two starts in terms of command, tempo, and occasionally velocity for 2 innings at least. 2 innings of quality followed by a deluge of suck is obviously not a winning formula, but he at least showed a flicker of improvement.

      They can follow the Vazquez formula from early last year and expect better results because, presumably, Phil is not as toast as Javy is/was (age and workload would make that pretty likely). They gave him a longer rope while still trying to fix him via skips and what not, and it paid dividends (at least for a little while). The hope is with Hughes it will pay dividends from later this month/May-late October.

      • Ted Nelson

        Without knowing what the problem is, it’s hard to say what the solution is… If it is a matter of fatigue or injury, continuing to march him out there to pitch could be the worst possible solution and resting him in extended spring training or something could be the best possible solution.

    • matt

      The only reason I’d act now is because it just so happens that Colon is pitching pretty effectively and who knows who long that might last? You don’t need me telling you that it’s not just the velocity with Phil, the month in extended could do him a world of good if it’s mapped out so that the workload is less intense but better calibrated, i.e. refining those secondary pitches.

      Whether you want to skip him once or not, I so strongly prefer the extended spring option generally because the timing works and might never be so good again. For me, even if you could option him, AAA is a non-starter for now, let him make rehab starts sure, but all the available evidence suggests that the biggest issue right now is Phil not being ready or able to rebound from the increased workload. Do it now, while the club is winning games in a variety of ways, at a time when Boston has really serious problems that aren’t all going to go away and most importantly, when Colon is showing real signs of being able to be effective for at least decent length for now, though we all know he’s only got a few months in there tops.

      And quite significantly, while the ERA doesn’t reflect it as well as the xFIP, AJ Burnett’s pitching at the level of a 3 now and maybe a lousy 2 – again, you just worry that that could be gone in a heartbeat (slightly OT, but I;m really bullish on AJ, the willingness to throw the change in key counts, the way he seems to respond to the Martin/Rothschild combo and, at least early on, getting that K rate way back up and K/BB rate stellar).

      Ride Bartolo for all he’s worth the next month in the rotation, and as you say, choose between Millwood/Silva for the long man role – possibly Freddy, but let’s see if the poor guy ever gets to make a start and see what he looks like. And get Phil right. 99.9$ this club acquires some variety of “front line” starter, but the importance of fixing Phil for this year can’t be overstated IMHO.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, now might be a good time. Soon might also be a good time, though, if he doesn’t improve significantly. Another start or two and you have a better feel for whether this was a glitch of a problem. You know more about the rest of your rotation and might be ready to give Millwood/Silva/maybe even Brackman a shot at that time.

        Now or soon, though, and you’re early in the season. Worst case, he misses a few starts in which he would have turned it around anyway. Best case, you get him back on track and he’s good to go for the rest of the season… whereas leaving him would have not allowed him to get back on track. If he’s toast in 2011 even after extended ST, then it probably didn’t matter what you did. I’m not too worried about losing confidence or something, which I’m sure some people would point to.

        I don’t know if Bartolo is a good rotation option. He’s proved he can pitch 2 or 3 innings… not that he can pitch 6 innings. Perhaps he can, but perhaps Millwood/Silva/Noesi/Brackman/whoever is a better option.

        AJ started 2010 well too. I’m not saying it’ll happen again, just that it could. We’re not out of the woods there by a long-shot, though I’m also bullish.

  • CountZero

    Yes. And I’m in agreement on the cutter too.

    I seem to recall it being said by people who know more about it than I (which must be a lot of people!) that throwing a cutter had this diminishing velocity effect on quite a few pitchers? Didn’t that come up with Loaiza? I.e., he became more effective by learning the cutter, but his velocity diminished afterwards?

    • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

      I just don’t understand why Hughes relies so heavily on a pitch (cutter) he only started to incorporate very recently, and has very often had mixed-to-bad results with. If he threw more curveballs it’s possible he would actually get comfortable with that pitch again after “losing” it much of last year.

      It also may even improve his cutter’s effectiveness when thrown, since it becomes more of an element of surprise pitch (as long as he locates it better than the one to Markakis, and the ones that got rocked in Fenway last week) when mixed in between frequent 4-seamers and curves. Ditto for the changeup.

      Would that shift actually help him? Who knows. It may not matter if he can’t consistently locate his 4 seamer, or actually throw it by hitters, which he did at least once in the early innings and then not again in 3-5.

      • Ted Nelson

        He might have used the cutter so much last season because it was a well above average pitch in 2009 and again last season… http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....#pitchtype

        Hughes actually threw the curve about as much as the cutter last season, this season he’s been throwing it in favor of a diminished FB… not in favor of the curve.

        Hughes used to have a lot of late life on his FB, which made is such an effective pitch. That life is gone and it’s been a flat pitch this season… that’s more of an issue IMO than the velocity. Averaging 89 or averaging 91 is not make or break… it’s location, deception, and movement.

  • Ben Seaver

    Kick his ass, Joe. Its nothing personal.

  • Will (the other one)

    I may be totally wrong about this, but wasn’t Hughes working with a different, more slider-like grip on his cutter this preseason? If so, do we even know which version of the pitch is the one that’s been giving him so much control and movement trouble so far? It certainly doesn’t explain all of his issues (namely, overall velocity), but I wonder how much we even know about the pitch that’s been his clear worst up to this point.

  • Jared

    I just hope Hughes isn’t hiding an injury. Fatigue is a best case scenario as it provides us all with a sense of optimism for future success in what could be the near future. I have no idea how he’s actually feeling, but I’m surprised the team hasn’t at least done some precautionary MRIs just incase something isn’t quite right.

    If it really is just a matter of tiredness though, I don’t think they’re doing him any service by letting him get shelled at the big league level. He should go down to AAA and get himself sorted out both physically and mentally.

    • Ted Nelson

      Fatigue can also invite an injury, though, so I’m not sure it’s the best case scenario. A small mechanical flaw that’s not putting more stress on the arm but is just reducing his velocity or not having built up his arm strength enough in the off-season seem like better case scenarios to me.

      I’m not sure that they have to release that information if he has gotten an MRI.

      They’re not doing themselves any favors letting him get shelled either, so I think it stands to reason that they expect him to turn it around at any time now.

      Pitching in AAA is not necessarily any less physically demanding that pitching in MLB… A lot of comments on this thread say “he’s tired, he needs to pitch in AAA…” If he’s tired it seems like he needs to go to extended spring training and rest, as Joe suggests in the article.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Pitching in AAA is not necessarily any less physically demanding that pitching in MLB… A lot of comments on this thread say “he’s tired, he needs to pitch in AAA…” If he’s tired it seems like he needs to go to extended spring training and rest, as Joe suggests in the article.

        True, if he is sent down, it makes far more sense to send him all the way to EXST in Tampa than actual game action in Scranton. Let him face simulated lineups with totally controllable conditions.

  • Ted Nelson

    Having absolutely no information about his off-season regiment, I could see him being under-worked just as easily as over-worked… Perhaps he came off the high workload and trained just as hard or harder, but perhaps he decided and/or was told not to work as hard this off-season since he was coming off a higher work load. If this was the case, perhaps he didn’t build the arm strength he usually does in the off-season and he’s still sort of warming up. Soriano also hasn’t started with his normal velocity, and I don’t think too many people are positing that he overworked himself in the off-season.

  • Kosmo

    Blethering on about Hughes lost velocity is getting old.Give him another start ,if he again stinks it up put him in the bullpen,give Colon his starts .
    Noesi right now might be a slightly better pitcher than Hughes.He throws
    93 mph consistently with a very good change up, his other offspeed stuff needs some work but he could very well challenge for a starting role.
    Nova still needs a very strong showing in his next couple of starts or he´s back to Scranton.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t think it’s getting old since it’s a pretty big deal involving an important long-term piece who most were hoping would break out. Plus every start gives up a bit more information/a larger sample.

      Just putting Hughes in the bullpen and ignoring any potential problems is probably not the best long-term move for the Yankees.

      It’s not hard to be as good or better than Hughes right now (14 ERA, 9 FIP… way under the Mitre line).

      Nova’s had one solid start and one bad start… it’s really premature to start talking about sending him down.

      • Kosmo

        C´mon if Nova doesn´t show something let´s say by the end of April early May the Yanks are going to have to consider other options.
        I think the Yanks have enough information about Hughes certainly more than either you or I might have to assess the current situation.We all know Hughes´ velocity is down ,one can speculate as to how his next starts will go .Does Hughes miraculously regain 5 mph on his fastball in his next start? Probably not in MHO.
        What are potential problems ?
        If their is no structurial damage to his arm what more do we need to know ??
        Rambling on about what the possibilities without furthur bits of info just creates more unwarranted drama and again in MO is a waste of time.
        If Hughes doesn´t get it together ,it´s either the DL or the pen.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          /boversimplify’d

        • Ted Nelson

          He already has shown something… He did very well in ST, his first start was 6 IP 3 ER, and then he had one poor start. I think you’re being way too impatient based on one poor start. He has that start in the middle of August and you don’t even notice it. It’s one start.

          The point with Hughes is that you don’t just send him to the bullpen if extended spring training, rest, and/or minor league starts are a better option. You say that the Yankees have more info (and I totally agree), but then you assume you know that their info says put him in the pen… see the problem there?
          Potential problems are fatigue, lack of arm strength, injury, or a mechanical flaw. Some of those could be addressed in the MLB bullpen, but with a very strong bullpen already in place and 2 options left for Hughes… that’s not necessarily the best approach. My point is that I don’t know what the best approach is, because I have no idea what’s wrong. Since you acknowledge that the Yanks have more info, it would seem you should agree with that.

          It’s not rambling on and there is more info. Joe analyzes his start… this is a Yankees blog, so analyzing last night’s starting pitching performance is something you’re going to see pretty regularly. If you don’t want to see an analysis of the Yankees’ starter last night, you might consider not coming to a Yankee blog.

          “If Hughes doesn´t get it together ,it´s either the DL or the pen.”

          Again… if you acknowledge that you don’t know what’s wrong and that the Yankees may or may not know what’s wrong… why jump to that conclusion? Why just ignore the options of extended spring training or minor league starts?

          • Kosmo

            You would be the first to acknowledge that ST is no great barometer as you´ve stated many times before.I´m pulling for Nova but I´m really on the fence from what I´ve seen this yr and last.

            Of course extended “ minor league starts“are a possibility .Resting Hughes or extended ST is the DL so the other option is the pen.
            In the future please don´t tell me what I should or shouldn´t do .Thanks.

            • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

              K thanks. Huh?

            • Ted Nelson

              Spring training isn’t a barometer, but one start is even less of one. I’d probably look at ST before I looked at any one particular start, and the thing I’d take from ST would be how he looked more than his results…

              If he had two 6 IP 3 ER starts so far this season, you’d still be saying that he needs to show you something or get sent down? If not, then you’re putting way too much stock into one start. The other issue is what he’s getting sent down for. If Manny Baluelos was MLB ready or Pettitte decided to come back… sure, send Nova right on down. To send him down to call up DJ Mitchell or David Phelps, though? No thanks. To send him down with the way Hughes is pitching and Garcia not yet having made a start? No thanks.

              “Of course extended “ minor league starts“are a possibility .”

              That is not in line with what you said: “If Hughes doesn´t get it together ,it´s either the DL or the pen.” See how neither one of those two options is optioning him down to make MiLB starts?

              “In the future please don´t tell me what I should or shouldn´t do .Thanks.”

              If you want to be logical and consistent… that’s what you should do. What you actually do is totally up to you. You basically agreed that’s what you should do by saying “Of course extended “ minor league starts“are a possibility .” If you just feel like being a defensive prick for the sake of it, though, that’s something you can do. Not necessarily what you should do, though.

      • matt

        I think that’s a mildly harsh take on Nova. He pitched what I’d call an excellent ballgame in his start – I’d call it excellent only for the reason that he had to navigate a lineup just loaded with lefties – and while the Boston line wasn’t pretty and he was straight up not terrific, he was also one ball getting stuck in Robbie’s club, from being through 4IP having with only 1 run in. I think Nova has fairly considerable rope, he’s in the rotation until the Yanks make their inevitable big-time upgrade (my money’s still on Carpenter, not that that has me doing cartwheels) and I think they’ll try very hard to make that upgrade in June as opposed to August.

        • Ted Nelson

          Agreed.

          Even after an acquisition and/or call-up Nova could still be around over Garcia, Hughes, even Burnett, and certainly anyone who gets injured… then again he could fail and get replaced by Millwood/Silva/Brackman/Noesi/Colon/whoever…

          I think Carpenter could be a good fit in that his long-term value is low enough to make him affordable, but his short-term value could make him quite attractive. Same for a Mark Beurhle. Yankees may need a front-end starter, but not necessarily a long-term solution that they need to send a huge package for, and their financial strength is a bit of an advantage in absorbing those big salaries and taking the risk that expensive older guys stay healthy/productive.
          Pettitte would be nice of course, in that he’s the same way but would require no prospects.

      • matt

        Ted, agreed, one thing that will categorically not happen is Phil Hughes pitching out of the ML pen this year. No way,

        • Ted Nelson

          The only way I see it happening is after all other options have been exhausted if he’s good enough to be of value in the pen but not the rotation… So, not very likely.

          • Ted Nelson

            Or if the rotation is stacked and there’s no room for him… which again isn’t very likely.

  • parmesan

    I think they need to refine his approach and let him have another couple starts to see how he progresses before yanking him out of the rotation. Stop throwing cutters to power-LHH’s, especially in YS, until he can manufacture some bite on the pitch again. Lean more heavily on the curveball, especially against LHH’s.

    Last night was not a good start by any stretch, but it was his best of the season. At least he’s showing progress and the curveball looks as good as it has all year. I think there’s enough there to give him a couple more turns, especially with a short hook and Bart acting as his caddy.

    • Kosmo

      Hughes cannot command his curveball for extended periods.Hitters sit on his fastball bypassing his offspeed offerings.

      • parmesan

        I think ‘is not’ is more the point than ‘cannot’. He just needs to do better. Maybe if he focused on the curve more and abandoned the cutter for awhile things would improve.

        • Kosmo

          Hughes has a good curveball but I doubt very much he´s going to start pitching backwards relying on his curveball to put hitters away.Plus throwing curveball after curveball is not good for a his arm especially when his arm might be “fatigued“.

          • Ted Nelson

            He can ditch the cutter in favor of more curves and changes without making a radical change… He threw 7 cutters last night according to Joe.

            • Kosmo

              Hughes cannot throw his curve for strikes on a consistent basis.Hughes still got hammered last night throwing 7 less cutters.

              • Ted Nelson

                Check your facts…

                He threw 11 curves and 8 were strikes. That’s pretty fucking consistent.

                A good portion of the hammering came on cutters. At least 2 of the 7 hits allowed came on cutters and at least 3 of the 5 runs scored resulted from cutters. He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs on non-cutters in 4.1 IP… that’s not getting hammered.

                • Ted Nelson

                  And the two hits in question off cutters were a double and homer… Otherwise he allowed 3 singles, a bunt single, and a double…

                • Kosmo

                  Fuck call it what you want .He didnt make it out of the 5th inning ,so in your estimation he didn´t get “hammered“ so let´s say he plainly stinks right now and leave it at that.

                  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

                    Your ability to conflate and confuse issues is truly astonishing. I tip my hat to you sir!

                    • Kosmo

                      Why thank you ! You´re a gentleman and a scholar!

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Uhh… We’re not talking about his overall performance. I agree that he got hammered overall. What we’re talking about is which specific pitches got rocked. The cutter got rocked worse than other pitches. That doesn’t mean if he stops throwing the cutter he won’t get hurt on the other pitches, but it’s a definite possibility.

                    It’s not as simple as saying that he stinks. It’s a matter of trying to analyze how he stinks and why he stinks.

                    That you tried to do this by saying he can’t throw the curve for strikes and then said it’s not even worth doing once proven wrong as far as last night’s game was concerned is amusing.

            • matt

              +1 – and I didn’t have a change to see much of the game last night, but the only other data point I’d love to see would be one of Mike’s pitchfx charts indicating the exact locations in the zone of the curves that were strikes, i.e. did he just drop one in for strike 1, or was there some real bite? You’re absolutely right, he’s only using the cutter because he hasn’t taken to the change, they see it as the next best thing against lefties. But he could even scrap both the cutter and the change and start throwing more variants of his curve and maybe try a split – Daryl Kile comes to mind as a guy who throw a bunch of different curves, both as to velocity and break and trajectory to great success.

              • Ted Nelson

                The cutter worked for him in 2009 and 2010, but doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I’d say he’s using it instead of the FB right now: http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....#pitchtype

                Compared to last season his curve and change % is similar, but his FB% is down and cutter up. His FB has no life, so maybe he’s been trying to compensate by throwing a similar pitch with more life. Interesting that he’s not throwing more changes after saying he was working on it… maybe he can’t get the differential he wants with the diminished FB velocity…

  • ledavidisrael

    This is Joba 08 all over again. REST the dude.

  • ledavidisrael

    Minors for hughes. Rotation for Joba. Allow Hughes to work things out in the minors and put him in the pen at the end of the year for post season.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Rotation for Joba.

      Not going to happen until at least 2012. We want it, we know, but it’s not on the table midseason. Table your suggestion until November.

      • ledavidisrael

        The Sherif is back in town!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Excuse me while I whip this out.

  • Joba’s sicko slider

    For a board, where judging based on small sample size is sacreligious, I am rather stunned that the commenters are not unanimous to keep Phil right where he is. He made 3 starts, i am hearing wavers, options, skipping a turn, pretty weird.

    • ledavidisrael

      Its not just poor results. Its how the poor results come about. Its not a bad luck situation. You can’t expect a regression to the mean when he isn’t average Phil Hughes.

      He has thrived on his plus fastball and cutter. Both of which he commanded well. He currently has no command. The fastball and cutter no longer currently don’t have the plus in front of them.

      Reasons to be worried!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      If Phil was pitching well, looked fine physically, had a sound approach, but just wasn’t getting good results, we’d all say it wasn’t a big deal and can be written off as SSS vagary.

      That’s not what’s happening here, though. SSS can be used to explain poor results from a sound process. Phil’s process is the part that’s not sound, though, and that’s why a heightened level of concern is present.

    • Ted Nelson

      As pointed out above, it’s not the results but that his stuff has physically changed. No one is rushing to say that he’ll never get it back, just wondering why he’s lost it and whether it’s more prudent to rest and/or rehab him than keep pitching him at the MLB level.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Phil is just keeping the heat off of Gardner/Jeter/Swish and all of the rest of our underperforming hitters.

    /team guy

    • theyankeewarrior

      +1

    • ledavidisrael

      I thought he was pulling this stunt to make former teammate Javy Vazquez feel better.

      “Check IT OUT DUDE! I lost my fastball, my command, and I look like shit. It happens”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Maybe that’s why Greg Golson can’t hit: he’s trying to make his other teammates who can’t hit feel better about themselves.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Hughes’ problems:

    Shitty command on inside pitches
    Shitty command on outside pitches
    No changeup
    No out pitch
    No velocity
    Flat cutter
    Same curveball since 2006

    Hope they have a miracle team down in Tampa.

  • Ted Nelson

    While everyone is talking about the velocity, I think that’s less of an issue than the movement. He used to have a lot of life on his FB and this season it’s just flat.

    • DF

      I have a feeling the two are related, though. He gets late life because he’s throwing at a certain velocity that generates sufficient spin that the ball appears to jump at the end, which we call late life.

      If he’s throwing softer, then the ball is not spinning at the same velocity, and it probably not appearing to “jump” as a result.

      • NJYankeeFan

        I agree. He’s trying to muscle the ball up to the plate so he has poor command on top of the lack of velocity and no bite on his breaking stuff. It’s a bad combination.

        I’d give him until the beginning of May, another 2-3 starts and if he hasn’t made any progress, I’d hit the reset button with a trip to Tampa for a month to sort out his mechanics and build up arm strength.

      • Ted Nelson

        Plenty of other guys have FBs with at least some late life that they don’t throw in the mid-90s… Hughes was hitting 91 last night. I don’t know much about physics, but I don’t think 1, 2, or 3 MPH is the difference between one of the better FBs out there and a well below average FB with no life on it at all.

        • Ted Nelson

          And it’s not just the late life and appearance the ball is speeding up I’m referring to anyway, but movement on the ball in general. You can throw an 88-91 mph FB if it has good movement. It doesn’t really matter if you’re throwing 95 if your FB is straight.

        • Ted Nelson

          I’m sure plenty of his FBs last season were 91, since he averaged 92.6 and was hitting 93, 95 on some… The 91 he is throwing now does not look as good as the 91 he was throwing then. That’s my point.

    • Kosmo

      It´s flat because he´s lost the bite that comes from diminished velocity.

      • Ted Nelson

        Guys throw 89 MPH FBs that have plenty of life to them. Plenty of successful pitchers (even righties) throw 89. Throwing faster is not a pre-requisite to be a good pitcher or to have a FB with life.

        My point is that it doesn’t appear he’s throwing the same FB. It’s not the same FB 2 MPH slower that’s why he’s struggling with it… it’s a totally different pitch. Why I don’t know.

      • NJYankeeFan

        Right.

        I’ve heard pitching coaches describe a lack of “arm speed” which not only results in diminished velocity but much less sharp breaking stuff.

        In particular, I’ve heard them speak about how a young Pedro Martinez had incredible arm speed and same with Joba pre-injury. With Joba, you can see besides the few MPH he’s lost off his heater, his slider isn’t as sharp as it was before the injury.

        • Ted Nelson

          Guys like Jamie Moyer or an old Pedro or Moose or Maddux have poor arm speed and still have pitches that move, though. In Hughes case the problem may be related, but there’s no 1 to 1 relationship between velocity and movement… see the knuckle ball for proof of that.

          My original point was just that it’s not all about velocity. If he lost 3 mph but had good movement on his FB he might be a bit worried, but his ERA probably wouldn’t be 14 and his FIP probably wouldn’t be 9.

  • godfather

    he’s secondary to the team’s need to win; they all are; those seats cost too much to watch rehab auditions; pendleton just showed more life than hughes has…and the stadium intimidates hughes bigtime