Phil Hughes and the need to pitch downhill

Scouting the Trade Market: Tim Byrdak
The bullpen is currently bare

Phil Hughes made his first start in nearly three months last night, dancing around danger for five innings and allowing just two first inning runs. He gave up six hits (all singles), two walks, and two hit batters, throwing 87 pitches and getting just two swings and misses.  “People are going to say it’s a good outing, but we know that he can be better,” said Joe Girardi afterwards. “We know that he can be downhill more …  I talked about with the extra days off and the first outing, my concern was that he would be up a little bit. That’s what we saw.” And up he was…

That heat map comes courtesy of David Golebiewski at Baseball Analytics and shows the location of Hughes’ fastballs last night. Everything is up in the zone, and a fair amount of it is towards the middle of the plate. There’s nothing wrong with pitching up in the zone if you have enough fastball to get away with it, but right now Hughes doesn’t. He sat mostly 91-92 mph last night with a few 93’s mixed in, up from earlier in the year but still down from last season, when he’d routinely flirt with 94-95.

Hughes is a big dude, listed at 6-foot-5 and 240 lbs. on the official site, but he’s so not outrageously tall that driving the ball down into the bottom third of the zone should be that difficult. He’s a fly ball pitcher (just 35.2% grounders for his career) because he’s up in the zone so, and that’s why he had so much trouble with homers in the second half last season. It sounds easy, but it only is in theory: Hughes has to pitch down in the zone given his present stuff. Pitching upstairs consistently just won’t work like it did in the first half of last year.

Of course, one start doesn’t tell us much. Perhaps he was just amped up and overthrowing, leading to pitches up in the zone. Did Phil look better than he did in April? Obviously yes, it would have been tough to look any worse. But he still had the same problem with putting guys away, so instead of trying to strike everyone out, it might be time to switch to (ugh) pitch-to-contact mode, even if it’s just temporary. Getting the ball down in the zone will help that, and maybe dabbling a two-seam grip would be worth a try as well.

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Scouting the Trade Market: Tim Byrdak
The bullpen is currently bare
  • YankeesJunkie

    I think this a pretty good assessment. Hughes needs to pound the lower part of the zone with the good fastball and cutter which should result in more grounders and maybe swings and misses.

    • Frank is Tanked

      Needs to and does are two entirely different things. He’s had 61 start to do these things, and hasn’t.

      Remember when Cashman said they liked Joba “stuff” better in the pen. Well, by that same standard, I’m willing to bet Hughes will find 95 mph again if used in one inning spurts. Pitching more than that he isn’t effective, he loses his stuff, gets smacked around, and gets hurt.

      When do we end the charade? One more year? Two?

      How about he stays healthy for a full season?

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

        Pitching more than that he isn’t effective, he loses his stuff, gets smacked around…

        Except the exact opposite happened last night. He got better as the game went on.

        • Frank is Tanked

          Better how? 2K against 2 BB?

          How about his velo?

          We have a decent sample for Hughes. Nothing suggests he’s getting better.

          Has he had even one season where he didn’t get hurt?

          • http://deleted Total Dominication

            How quickly we forget.

            • Frank is Tanked

              Forget what? Putting 10 men on base in 5 innings or getting two swings and misses in 87 pitches?

              • jsbrendog

                there’s a microwave burrito joke in here somewhere

          • Ted Nelson

            “Nothing suggests he’s getting better.”

            Besides, you know, a century of evidence that pitchers improve into their late 20s. Phil Hughes just turned 25 two weeks ago.

            • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Needs more informed numbers.

  • Frank is Tanked

    One start? It was the exact same pitcher we’ve seen for most of his career (i.e. apart from the six weeks where he was throwing a cutter no one had adjusted to yet).

    This guy is a two-pitch reliever without the stuff to get by for five innings like Burnett. It’s time to give up on him as a starter. Nova has been better while being given less of a chance (like Joba before him).

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      People… This is what being patient with young pitching, letting them take their lumps in the name of long-term development… THIS is what it looks like.

      It’s easy for everyone and their mother to complain about the Yankees and accuse them of never letting their young pitchers develop, but when we actually see it in action, in real life… Most of the people who knock the Yankees for a lack of patience don’t want to give the young starters a chance to develop.

      Everyone talks a big game about wanting to see young pitchers develop, but when they actually take their lumps in the big leagues, most people don’t understand what it means to be patient. For like 90% of the people out there, development of a young pitcher is only a program to be adhered to while that young pitcher is succeeding. Slightest sign of struggle, and they give up.

      • Frank is Tanked

        Hughes has had much more opportunity than every pitcher coming through the Yankee system. More than Joba. More than Kennedy. More than Nova. More than Noesi.

        Just because the Yankees deem one pitcher to be a starter doesn’t mean he should. He’s at least 20% worse than league average when he starts in about two years worth of starts. At some point a young pitcher has to show some improvement. Hughes never has. He gets hurt, he’s much less effective, and he’s unable to adjust.

        Who knows, maybe Hughes with 95 mph consistent gas, becomes Mo’s heir. But it’s pretty clear he won’t be a starter with the Yankees. And this isn’t IPK we’re talking about.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “Hughes has had much more opportunity than every pitcher coming through the Yankee system. More than Joba. More than Kennedy. More than Nova. More than Noesi.”

          So? So the Yanks shouldn’t try to improve their process? If they make a mistake once, they MUST make it again? They must treat all players the same way, no matter the difference between them?

          “…it’s pretty clear he won’t be a starter with the Yankees. And this isn’t IPK we’re talking about.”

          The Yankees should hire you, you clearly know much more about their personnel than they do. I just hope the Sox don’t get you on their payroll before Cashman calls.

          • Frank is Tanked

            You improve your process with pitchers who have the tools. Hughes has shown he doesn’t have them. He doesn’t have the same stuff as a starter and he consistently gets hurt.

            Given the line behind him, it’s time to move on. There’s a better pitcher, already proven, in AAA. He’s wasting his innings there.

            Instead of hiring me, I just wish they’d watch teams who know how to develop pitching – like Atlanta.

            • Jim S

              He’s actually shown he does have the tools. He’s just not locating them.

              Nova has a much shorter, slightly more successful track record in the ML. Hughes has a much longer, much more successful track record in the MiL, which is a better predictor of future success.

              You’re not judging him on 61 starts. You’re judging him on 5 innings in his first healthy start in the majors this year. That’s the definition of reactionary.

              • Frank is Tanked

                Velocity? Nope.
                Health? Nope.
                Breaking pitches? Nope.
                Control? Not really.
                Stamina? Nope.

                Which tools does he have?

                And actually no, I’ve based my whole argument in this thread on his entire history as a starter. Last night night fits perfectly into that history.

                When do you give up on Hughes?

            • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

              How many successful big league starting pitchers have a proven track record in the pen? Very few.

              How would Cliff Lee, or Felix Hernandez’s stuff look in the pen? Probably even better than as a starter. That argument of stuff is better in the pen is almost universally the same for every pitcher.

              It’s easy to say throw him in the pen knowing he was successful in the past, but that is exactly how you don’t develop good young pitchers. Sometimes they need to take their licks, and learn to pitch at the big league level. For many power pitchers, they’ve gotten by with poor location by just smoking pitches by hitters. When the hitters can catch up, the pitchers need to learn to adjust.

              You’ve given the kid exactly 1 start off the DL to prove himself. Talk about SSS.

              -Brando

              • Frank is Tanked

                Um, no. I’ve given him 61 starts. That’s many more than any Yankee pitching prospect has gotten in the last 15 years. Only Wang had more.

                I saw throw him in the pen for at least five reasons:
                1. He’s had success there.
                2. He can’t stay healthy as a starter.
                3. His velo was better there.
                4. The Yankees have a need there.
                5. The Yankees have a better starter wasting innings in AAA.

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

      Ivan Nova is a two-pitch pitcher too. Might as well give up on him as a starter while we’re at it.

      • Frank is Tanked

        Except he’s been league average in less of an opportunity…probably because he does the things you’re saying Hughes should do but never really has.

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

          He hasn’t been league average, he’s been about 10% below that this year.

          • Frank is Tanked

            How much better is that than Hughes? Or Hughes in his career as a starter?

            We can argue percentages, in a year where offense as a whole is down, or we can compare the two pitchers, and more, in front of us.

            Nova is at a 99 ERA+. His career ERA is 4.30 as a starter (better than Burnett in pinstripes). That’s half a run better than Hughes.

            When do you go with the better pitcher?

            • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

              Is your argument that Nova is a legitimately better pitcher than Hughes?

              • Frank is Tanked

                Better starter, yes. Hughes has to prove me wrong. He’s shown little to suggest he will.

                • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

                  Hughes- Apr 15 – June 29 2010
                  88 IP – 3.58ERA, 3.46FIP

                  Nova- Apr 4 – July 1 2011
                  91 IP – 4.12ERA, 4.58FIP

                  Similar time tables, similar amount of starts. Just because Nova might be pitching better at the moment, doesn’t mean he’s the better STARTING pitcher.

                  • Frank is Tanked

                    Sooooooo, you take one pitcher’s best run against another pitcher only run and you want to call that even steven?

                    Nova has proven to be better in fewer innings. If after another 40 starts he can’t stay healthy AND puts up a cumulative 4.81 ERA then I’ll be arguing for the next pitcher in the system.

                    Lord knows Cashman can NEVER again allow TWO prospects in the rotation at the same time.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          You realize that if he pitches 30 starts in a season he’ll probably be below league average.

        • Ted Nelson

          Nova is only 6 months younger than Hughes… the experience/he’s had a chance argument only goes so far.

          Both Hughes AND Nova can start for the Yankees, so this really isn’t an either/or thing anyway.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I think why people are higher on Nova than Hughes is because Nova was projected to have a 4th starter’s ceiling and be a 5th/6th starter type. Hughes was an ace, then a three, then a two, then an ace (for a bit), then a two, and so on… The tyranny of expectations.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I think it’s a bit simpler than that. They’re higher on Nova because they’ve seen Nova succeed more recently. It’s all about what’s happening today and what happened yesterday, nobody thinks long-term and, frankly, I think most people fail to see prospect/young player development in the proper context/perspective (or with much perspective at all).

          • Frank is Tanked

            Please. Hughes has shown exactly no development. And he gets hurt. This isn’t rocket science.

            Stick him in the pen this year. Hold out hope that one spring training he can win back a job. Act like most every team in major league history and stop pretending that a role is defined and set. Pitching prospects are built to fail. When they do you don’t ignore all evidence and hope for some vague “development”.

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

              Give me a break. Put him in the pen this year then hold out hope he can win a job as a starter next year? What part of that sounds logical?

              • Frank is Tanked

                Yeah, it’s never been done before in the history of baseball. No prospect has ever been relegated to the pen only to win a job when they show they can pitch effectively.

                Your problem is you can’t explain why Hughes has been so bad with so many chances. You want to call it one start when it’s been his whole career as a starter.

                You also can’t explain why he can’t stay healthy. Has he ever?

                • Jim S

                  Are you really playing the “no prospect has ever” game?

                  • Frank is Tanked

                    Mike seems to think it’s unheard of. I’d venture that most other team who have a talent like Hughes would have moved him back to the pen by now. He’s been effective there. He hasn’t been effective as a starter.

                    The Yankees though seem to be fixated on Hughes in a way they never were with Joba or Kennedy. Realize that Kennedy got all of 13 starts with the Yankees and across two seasons.

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

                      Because he was injured in 2009.

                    • Frank is Tanked

                      He wasn’t injured in 2007-2008. How were their starters then?

                      You realize that Sidney Ponson (with a 5.85 ERA) got more starts in 2008 than Kennedy ever got with the Yankees.

                      Some things will never change.

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

                      Are you serious? Kennedy was in A-ball in 2007 and worked his way into the big league rotation by September. He had an 8+ ERA in nine starts in 2008, he wasn’t ready yet.

                    • Frank is Tanked

                      What does that even mean, “ready”? He crushed mL hitters in 2007 and coming out of college. Then in 2008 he destroyed them. Of course he was “ready”. He just needed to learn to pitch against major league hitters. And they bailed on him for Sir Sidney Ponson and his suckfest.

                • Jimmy McNulty

                  You also can’t explain why he can’t stay healthy. Has he ever?

                  Well he did have the massive inning jump from 2009 to 2010. And he’s not really a “prospect” anymore.

          • Urban

            There is a belief that NY Yankee fans have no patience when it comes to watching young players develop, and suffering through the ups and downs. I used to argue that wasn’t true, but looking at many of the comments on this board and others, it looks like I was wrong.

            • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Agreed, although I don’t know that I was ever as optimistic about it as you were. I think it’s really easy for people to talk about patience/development, but when it comes to living it, they immediately lose the script. We’re just seeing that play out now.

              • Frank is Tanked

                Can you point to any monthly splits that show sustained “development” from Hughes?

                I’ll give you the beginning of 2010. But then you also have to accept the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Well the reason I’m so disappointed with Hughes is that, five years ago I expected him to be an ace…here we are now. There’s been lots of twists and turns in his story, I think a good article could be written about all of his setbacks and highs and lows, and it’s getting quite frustrating. Of course, most young pitchers go through this but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. He’s not Clayton Kershaw, he’s not Felix Hernandez, and he’s not Tim Lincecum. Fans tend to view other teams’ prospects through the lens of patience. Look at his opponent last night, Masterson’s gone through a lot too. Same with Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. Doc had to be completely broken down and built back up in the minors, Ubaldo took some time to deal with, Greinke went crazy, and Cliff Lee had to get sent back down to the minors in his late 20s.

            Shit happens with young talent, doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Nor does it mean that every young pitcher that struggles will see the light at the end of the tunnel, the last few guys that I listed all had their own sets of problems that are different than Phil’s. Phil’s biggest problem, aside from health, is the lack of a put away pitch. He’s not good enough to get by on just his fastball, most pitchers aren’t. He needs that swing and miss curveball back, and his change up is good enough to be the third pitch at a big league level. I’m still quite bearish on Hughes, but I realize nothing’s set in stone.

      • Monteroisdinero

        No he is not. He has an excellent changeup, 2 fb’s and a really good curve that he can throw in put away situations (striking out Pagan with the bases loaded last weekend).

        Saying “the Yankees should hire you” every time someone has an opinion that differs from the “always right” powers that be, gets old.

        I like Phil and we will see after a few more starts how he does. At least we know he is not injured and will be given every chance to be in the rotation.

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

          Nova’s changeup is hardly “excellent.” He throws it 8% of the time and opponent have hit .360 off it this year. The strikeout of Pagan was his only strikeout of a non-pitcher that day.

          • Monteroisdinero

            It’s certainly excellent compared to Phil’s and would be better if called for more frequently. This argument will never be settled here but I think Nova-if given a FULL opportunity will outperform Phil as a starter.

            • Frank is Tanked

              He already has.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Meh, if he gets that curveball back he’s a starter…and probably a good one. Otherwise, he’s probably destined to be a reliever in the AL East.

  • Ben Vinutti

    Of course it’s only 1 start, but….I am not particularly enthusiastic about Mr. Hughes anymore. His second half was weak last year, attributed by many as a result of fatigue from an increase in innings. Then he started off this year terribly, and it was attributed to his being too out of shape in spring training and not ready for prime time. Then he was found to have shoulder inflamation. Now he “needs to pitch more downhill.” He is only 25, so he of course has time to straighten out and improve – but his change sits 83-84 (not a huge speed differential from 89-91), if he is not going to get more MPH out of his quite straight 4 seamer, and his curve remains lazy, I am afraid he is demonstrating more than a short term problem. He may be destined for middle relief – unless he finds more MPH and/or better control of his stuff, or he develops a quality sinker…I am very disappointed in his performance, including the 2009 playoffs and since the second half of last year. I am not seeing a much better pitcher than Ivan Nova right now. I hope and pray that I am proved wrong going forward – but neither guy gets enough swings and misses, but at least Nova gets grounders…

  • Cy Pettitte

    I think Phil needs to get the feel for his offspeed stuff back. Hitters appeared to be sitting on the fastball because the curve and change weren’t really there. When he does get them back the fastball will be more effective because they won’t be able to sit on it and he’ll hopefully start getting some more whiffs on it.

  • craig

    This seemed like a typical start from a guy who is still working at getting his arm strength back to where it needs to be. In a perfect world, he would have had the luxury of another couple of rehab starts to get his pitch count in the 90-100 range. With that extra work comes the refinement of location…part of why he was up in the zone, hit 2 batters and struggled to put people away. This is different than Phil not getting that 3rd strike earlier in the year. Then, his stuff just wasn’t very good. Now, he was missing spots and is still 1-2 mph short on his FB, but both of these should come with pitching in games.

    Overall, I think this was an encouraging start. He was healthy. He threw harder. He only gave up singles. Now let’s see how he does with another 3-4 starts under his belt. I know it is difficult to do, but have patience with Phil. This start was a very good step in the right direction.

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “This seemed like a typical start from a guy who is still working at getting his arm strength back to where it needs to be.”

      Totally agreed. I love that so many people see last night as a one-start referendum on Hughes’s future. It was his first start back for crying out loud. I’m not psyched about last night, but it is what it is. He’s a young pitcher who clearly has a lot of development ahead of him, it’s not going to happen overnight. This is what it looks like when a young pitcher struggles and has to work through adversity.

      • Frank is Tanked

        Ummm, no. I see 61 starts as a referendum on his future. There’s been no improvement in that stretch. If anything, he’s gotten much worse the more he’s pitched. His velo is down and his pitches aren’t as effective.

        Put him in relief and see if the velo comes back.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Please respond to every single comment I post in this thread by saying the exact same thing in response, it’s in no way tedious or repetitive.

          • Frank is Tanked

            Please keep using the words “development” and “patience” with exactly no evidence to back them up. It’s in no way tedious or repetitive.

            • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Eh, I take the snark back, it’s not your fault. I should know better than to wade into these threads, it’s not for me.

              • Frank is Tanked

                Nice backhanded compliment. I struggle to present data to argue my point. You argue for “development” and “patience” without any data. When called out, you blame the forum.

                If facts and stats aren’t for you, then baseball isn’t the sport for you.

                • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  It wasn’t really a backhanded compliment as much as it was a blatant criticism.

                  • jsbrendog

                    O:S

                    just put him in the ted nelson “don’t bother reading his posts” club.

                  • Frank is Tanked

                    And yet your “criticism” hasn’t identified any weakness in my arguments, except some vague allusions, without fact, to “development” and “patience”.

        • Jim S

          61 starts is not a referendum on his future. Not when he’s had health issues and, at his best, been above average.

          His velocity would probably increase 2-3 mph in the bullpen, but velocity was NOT his problem yesterday; location was. Did you read the article? At all?

          • Frank is Tanked

            There you go with the health issues. Where’s the evidence to suggest he can stay healthy as a starter?

            As for velo, I beg to differ. 91-92 without a good breaking pitch is begging to get smacked.

            • Jim S

              95 high and in the middle of the zone is begging to get smacked too. What’s your point?

              As for health issues, they’ve been different, nothing recurring, and nothing career threatening. Overreacting to something like that isn’t necessary.

              • Frank is Tanked

                You can pitch high with 95. 91, not so much.

                Sure he needs location too. But the velo is much more worrisome. It’s how this year got started and he’s had plenty of time to get it back.

                You can’t simply dismiss the injuries. He’s gotten hurt every year, no? That says something about his makeup.

                Actually, did he get hurt in 2009? I don’t think he did. One more point in favor of him as a reliever.

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

                  He didn’t get hurt last year either.

                  • Frank is Tanked

                    And yet everyone wants to say this year is a consequence of last year?

        • Jimmy McNulty

          Hughes also made a few starts in the old “live ball era” prior to 2010. He also made a few starts as a 21 and 22 year old. When Nova was 22 he wasn’t even good enough to keep on the 40 man.

          • Frank is Tanked

            Can you find more informed numbers to build an argument around than age?

            • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Can’t help myself… What’s an “informed number?”

              • Frank is Tanked

                There’s your problem right there. You really think age is equivalent to ERA or WHIP or K:BB?

                • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Still don’t see an answer to the question: What’s an “informed number?”

  • Urban

    In his chat today, KLaw referred to Hughes’ game as a rehab start in the majors. That’s about right. Yet for a rehab start, he pitched about as well as Nova can at his best.

    • Frank is Tanked

      You mean like Nova against Cincy?

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

        More like his last start, when he barely escaped the fifth in an NL park.

        • Frank is Tanked

          Oh I see. A pitcher with 61 chances and a 4.81 career ERA should get more room to “develop” than the guy with 23 chances and a 4.30 ERA.

          Got it.

          • Jim S

            Logic fail. O:S

          • Joop

            Player evaluation and good process fail.

          • jsbrendog

            you wouldve ruined randy johnson’s career before he ever had a chance

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

              If Pedro Martinez had his 1993 season today, he would have never started another game.

              • jsbrendog

                halladay would be the closer in toronto

                • Frank is Tanked

                  Do you guys want me to list all the pitching prospects that never amounted to anything?

  • NYYROC

    In ST he had 7Ks vs Tor with a wide sweeping breaking ball (slider?) It looked nothing like his CB. Wonder why he doesn’t try that pitch.

  • JohnC

    anyone who thinks Hughes is better off in the pen is an idiot! He’s a starter and should stay a starter. Thats how they ruined Joba, shuffling him back and forth. Leave him be and lets allow him to get better as he gets stronger

    • Frank is Tanked

      You mean like 2010? He sure got “stronger”!

      • JohnC

        Different scenario. That was his first full year starting and he went past his innings limit. This year he was hurt and is still building up his arm strength, like ST all over again. Moving him to the pen will only set him back again

        • Frank is Tanked

          You do realize that’s a further indictment against the Yankees, right?

  • Hester Prynne

    Let’s give Hughes some more starts before we banish him to the pen. He’s just coming back from a long layoff for christ sake.

  • Peepee Hands

    The obvious redzone on the chart has to be where his cutter was hitting. And he threw that quite a bit last night. I think this graph is a little misleading saying that most of his pitches where up when I believe most of them were cutters thrown to the lefty heavy Indian line up last night. He does need to locate his cutter a little better and the fastballs need to be down a little more, but, its the swing and misses the were absent last night is what scares me.

  • http://riveraveblues sandy g

    lets face it, phil hughes has never been the same pitcher since he hurt his leg in texas a few years ago when he had a no hitter for 7 innings then blew out his leg. he was hitting 95 96 all night long.he has not hit that since.if scouts think he is done as a starter the yankees are stuck with him because no one will trade for him.how come word is comming out now that he had a cyst removed from his shoulder in april?the yankees are trying to just save face on this.

    • YankeesJunkie

      I will agree that Hughes has never been the same pitcher since that faithful night in Texas. However, to say the Yankees are stuck with Hughes is a huge overstatement.

      1. Even if he never amounts to a #4 starter he will never be a burden on the Yankees payroll.

      2. It is his first start after after three months versus MLB competition he probably deserves a few more.

      3. Hughes has the stuff to be an MLB starter although the command is not there.

      • CG

        He was the same pitcher last year when he took a no hitter into the 7th against he A’s no?

  • NYYROC

    From what I saw, the positives: 1) he mixed in all his pitches 2) His velo was about where it usually is and I think he’ll get a little stronger with a few more starts 3) He was able to, for the most part, pitch out of trouble. The negatives 1) Location was bad. Too many pitches up and over the plate. He couldn’t hit corners. That is why no swings and misses. ML hitters don’t miss pitches over the heart of the plate. 2) Unable to finish hitters, I think this stems from #1.
    PH will get better. I am interested to see how he performs the rest of the year because I think it will have a big impact on where he fits in the NYY plans in the future.

  • first time lawng time

    Well, the guy just came back from an injury.

    I refuse to make any judgements on him or assumptions that he is better off in the pen or Nova is better.

    People, it’s just too soon. Give him like 4 or 5 starts before we make decisions.

    However, I will say a few things about last night. He had trouble putting away hitters, which is annoying to watch; he looked a lot like he did the second half of last year; he gave up only 2 runs, which is pretty much all I care about.

    • JohnC

      you’re talking to the wrong fan base if you’re asking for patience

      • YankeesJunkie

        However, he is talking to the right blog about patience. RAB is supposed to be a board about reason and ignoring SSS.

        • Frank is Tanked

          61 starts isn’t a SSS.

  • jsbrendog

    is it just me or does phil not seem to have an out pitch? before he can elevate himself into being a possible top 3 starter in any rotation he needs to learn how to put away hitters with 2 strikes.

  • Jorge

    60 posts, and an hour straight of arguing with a guy who isn’t going to get moved away from his “Hughes sucks” stance. That’s what I call a waste of time.

    After his innings pitched last season, something like what has happened so far this year was not far fetched to expect. Whether you believe it in or not, guys like Hughes and Baumgarner were at the top of Tom Verducci’s list this year for pitchers most at risk. I am glad he’s back, that the velocity was there, and that he has something to build upon. There is no pitcher on this team whose success I root for more than Phil Hughes.

    • YankeesJunkie

      This.

      I am hoping that throughout the year that Hughes will develop into more of pitcher throughout the season with better command. I would love to see Hughes move the ball around especially lower in the zone and mix in more curves and changes while using the cutter less. At the very worst Hughes fits in to the back of the Yankee rotation and at the best he is #2.

    • first time lawng time

      There is no pitcher on this team whose success I root for more than Phil Hughes.

      Ummm Allan James Burnett. But that’s just my opinion.

      • YankeesJunkie

        Seeing AJ doing well is always fun, but his best years are behind him while Hughes are still hopefully ahead of him.

        • first time lawng time

          Haha yeah. I’m just saying that because of all the AJ haters.

          (for example, read some of the articles in Ian O’Connor’s archive)

  • SRB

    Let’s solve the problem by trading back for Ian Kennedy, Jeff Karstens, Tyler Clippard, and Dan McCutcheon- The we can renew all of the “time to develop” arguments but just change the names- Have at it!

  • Well

    2 runs in 5 innings isn’t bad for a first start after a long recovery. Maybe if we had a better reliever out there to hold the game and our offense not do it’s routine slump we could have won.

  • Anchen

    I’m hoping to see Phil recover more of his fastball as he gets more starts. I’m also wondering if he’ll ever go back to his old curveball before that game in Texas. I feel it was a much better put away pitch, and the pitchfx showed it has quite a bit more vertical movement on it. I’m still hoping to see the great control he had in the minors return and his ability to put guys away. I also wonder if he throws the cutter just a bit too much. His cutter I think is a useful tool but I don’t think it is that ‘good’ of a cutter, and I think he might be throwing it more than he should. We’ll see how it goes of course. Throwing 94-95 instead of 91-92 gives you a lot more leeway to do things…

  • My Boy Blue

    Just wanted to let Frank is Tanked know he’s not alone in his opinions on Hughes. I think a segment of this fanbase is tired of Hughes’ opportunities to succeed being more important than guys like Nova, Joba, Kennedy and even Colon (who earned a spot in the rotation in the spring and beat out Hughes).

    Hughes against a better offense gets killed last night. He can’t strike anyone out. His ball is straight and has no movement. He has no off speed pitches to keep hitters off balance.

    Yet he keeps getting spots and chances that to some of us don’t feel he earned.

    Nova earned his spot. Colon earned his spot. Garcia earned his spot.

    Hughes was handed it. Again. Just like in 2008.

    He had a good 6 weeks as a starter in 2010 that got him an all star appearance. That said, he’s no all star.

    I would have spent the time to continue developing Nova who was already getting better week in week out as this season progressed.

    Instead we get to watch the same old stuff from Hughes who shows no development and no progress.

    He must really be a sweet boy because the Yankees sure love him. I saw someone call him a “coaches son” type and they were right on the money.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I think a segment of this fanbase is tired of Hughes’ opportunities to succeed being more important than guys like Nova, Joba, Kennedy and even Colon (who earned a spot in the rotation in the spring and beat out Hughes).

      —————————————

      That’s what it is right there there are a number of fans that have grown tired of Hughes and his journey to become the pitcher the Yankees think he will be. Rightly or wrongly there is a section of the fan base that no longer views him as a potential top of the rotation starter because of the chances he has been given.

      The good news is he did improve from what he did in his first couple of starts earlier in the season. Hopefully he can turn it around because the Yankees need him.

  • godfather

    from the nyt: “none of the 40 fastballs he threw generated a swing and miss…”that’s fkng horrid; his pitches don’t move enough (there’s not stuff enough in them) to keep him out of trouble; downhill? yes, send him downhill to reinvent his mechanics; no less than roy halladay reinvented himself that way; the nyy “baseball people” need to get a pitching guru…in those eighth innings of bygone days, he used to get missed swings bigtime; if he hasn’t the talent to exploit that strength as a starter, put his candyass back in the pen — or find a club that thinks they could teach him; i couldn’t stand ian because of the excuses he made for shellings, so i held the door open for him to scat…a thing that haunts me is giambi saying phil reminded him of roger when he first saw him…well, he could use a shot in the ass

  • Dave

    Sadly, the last few posts showed that RAB doesn’t attract the “smart” Yankee fan. Like the other blogs, just the spoiled idiots who live and die with every freaking pitch and are quick to jump off a bridge on players. I can see why so many HATE Yankee fans.