This should be the end of the line for Hughes

The Slide Continues: Yankees no match for Blue Jays in series opener
Yankees still have five days to bolster roster for playoff push
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn))
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

In what became an unfortunate running theme for this season, Phil Hughes did not complete five innings of work nor did he give the Yankees a reasonable chance to win on Monday night. His latest dud featured five runs (three earned) and ten base-runners in just 4.2 innings against a Blue Jays team without Jose Bautista or any other member of their starting outfield. Some guys named Ryan Goins, Moises Sierra, and Kevin Pillar went a combined 3-for-5 with a walk, a sac bunt, and a sac fly though. Think about that.

That performance has Phil sitting on a 4.91 ERA — that ranks 80th out of 85 qualified starting pitchers, by the way — and 4.55 FIP in 135.2 innings across 25 starts, an average of just 5.1 innings per start. This isn’t a stretch of four or five bad starts, Hughes has been awful all year. Easily the weak link in the rotation, which is hard to believe when CC Sabathia ranks 78th (!) out of those 85 qualifiers with a 4.81 ERA. I really hate what Sabathia has become this year, but I digress.

“It’s been very difficult,” said Hughes to Bryan Hoch following last night’s game. “Every time I feel like I make some progress the last couple times out, it seems like you have these hiccups and it’s the way the whole season has gone. It’s been difficult, it’s been a struggle. I guess every time you have one of these outings I try and look at the positive. I still have the opportunity to pitch in big games where it really matters and that’s all I can do. I can’t get down on myself or negative all the time. I just have to stay confident and aggressive every time they give me the ball.”

Therein lies the rub: the Yankees shouldn’t give Hughes the ball anymore, at least not as a starter. Not if they’re serious about winning and making a run to the postseason. They’re five games behind the Athletics for the second wildcard spot in the loss column and have a 7.8% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. There are only 31 games left in the season and no margin for error, at least not enough of one to continue running Hughes out there every fifth day. A change has to be made if they want to have a chance.

“Right now [Hughes is] in our rotation,” said Joe Girardi to Hoch. “We haven’t talked about taking him out of our rotation. I think he had a walk that scored; a couple walks hurt him today. We didn’t make the play behind him and it looks a lot different if it’s three runs in five innings.”

Replacing Hughes will have to be an outside-the-organization thing because the team’s sixth (David Phelps), seventh (Vidal Nuno), and eighth (Michael Pineda) starters are all hurt. Adam Warren has been solid overall (3.69 ERA and 4.80 FIP), but he has a 5.30 ERA and 5.85 FIP since mid-May. That’s rough. As bad as Hughes has been, I find it hard to believe Warren would be a rotation upgrade. David Huff has been impressive in two long relief outings against the lowly Blue Jays but otherwise has a 5.25 ERA and 4.74 FIP in almost 300 career innings. He’s the best in-house option and that really, really bites.

Joe has already written about trading for Dan Haren, and yesterday Derrick Goold said the Nationals want “a group of prospects” for the right-hander. Who knows what that means. Haren has been awesome in nine starts (and one relief appearance) since coming off DL (2.53 ERA and 3.09 FIP) and is almost certainly the best starter the Yankees will find on the market at this time of year. Edinson Volquez? Erik Bedard? Joe Saunders? Volquez (6.01 ERA) and Joe Saunders (4.91 ERA) have been as bad or worse than Hughes despite pitching in much more favorable ballparks. Bedard has made no secret of his dislike of big cities. There isn’t much help out there.

At the very least, the Yankees should use Thursday’s off-day to rearrange the rotation and make sure Hughes does not face the Orioles this coming weekend. They can push him back to the White Sox series next week. That has to happen, the series against Baltimore is way too important. The team needs to figure out a way to replace Hughes for the rest of the season — I thought they should have done that prior to the trade deadline — if they want to have a chance at making the playoffs in Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Phil is out of rope. Things need to change.

The Slide Continues: Yankees no match for Blue Jays in series opener
Yankees still have five days to bolster roster for playoff push
  • MannyGeee

    I hate to say it, but I am officially off the Hughes-wagon. I tried to resist, but in all honesty… he needs a change of scenery more than any other pitcher in the history of pitchers or scenery.

    Its been a hell of a ride Philip, but peace out. In his current state, he has no business being on the mound for a team clawing tooth & nail for a chance at a playoff spot.

    • trr

      In a word, YES.

      It’s over for him in New York.
      If Cashmen/Girardi continue to ride him through the end of the season they deserve every criticism they receive.

    • jjyank

      I’m with ya man. I tried to stay on his band wagon as long as possible. The promise he came up with, and just being a home grown guy, I was rooting hard for him, as I’m sure most of us were. But it just wasn’t meant to be.

    • Slu

      100% agree – except I fell off the wagon a while ago. I will actually be excited when Hughes is no longer a Yankee. That is sad.

    • Tisha

      Nats wanting a package for Haren ? Now that is a joke. And the Yanks have no choice but to keep running Hughes “the automatic loser” out there.

      • AllyinCt

        Too bad the Yankees couldn’t have just traded Hughes for Haren.

  • Travis L.

    Scott Kazmir has been a better pitcher than Hughes this year.

    Makes me want to cry.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Hey, they were both heralded pitchers. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, in a vacuum.

      • Travis L.

        Honestly, if Kazmir is “back to form”, then I’d say the Yankees should look to sign him on a one year deal for 2014. Assuming Kuroda goes somewhere to win (LA maybe) and Pettitte retires, Phelps has surgery, Pineda gets “Michael Rules”. Sabathia, Nova, Kazmir, Nuno and Huff…… tummy hurts now.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          This team can do better in the off-season than signing Scott Kazmir.

          I doubt Huff gets that much of a look from this team next year unless he pulls a total Aaron Small in September.

      • Elton Cod

        Even in a vacuum Hughes sucks.

      • Captain Turbo

        Hughes’ slider would have absolutely no movement in a vacuum.

    • Tisha

      most pitchers have been better than Hughes

      • Travis L.

        Understood. But remember back a couple of years, and how bad Kazmir was!! Now the shoe is on the other foot.

        “You cant predict baseball…”

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I doubt they’re looking outside the org on August 27th, but it is still technically possible.

    Huff can get the ball. Warren can be stretched out, with “different mentality reliever what a load of shit” Hughes caddying him until he’s stretched out. Are any better options? Is Danny Haren a better option? Well, we don’t know. This would be a “try something different” situation, not a “clear improvement” one.

    I was all for acquiring an extra starter before the deadline. They just don’t answer my calls, though. Maybe I should use a different name when I call.

    I also think righteous anger is a piss-poor reason to make a change, and no two guys inspire more righteous anger on this team than our prodigal twosome…..well, except Alex, but I digress.

    • Travis L.

      A lot of people are chanting for CMW or Edinson Volquez, but I think I’d rather have Hughes than either of those two. Maybe Haren, but there really isn’t much of an upgrade anywhere. Haren is the best (only?) choice for a chance improvement at that rotation spot right now.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I wouldn’t touch either of those two. Agreed.

        There’s merit to seeing if you can get a good month out of Huff. I still have my doubts as to Warren as a starter but, again, this is about seeing if there’s a month in which they keep the team in the game long enough to hand it off to the bullpen.

        This isn’t about bandwagons or hate or whatnot. It’s about the need to have some sort of consistency out of that slot the rest of the way, Hughes isn’t going to offer that and, since he’s gone anyway, I could give three shits about his development or how he feels about it.

        Sorry, Phil. We’ll always have the memories.

  • mitch

    I wonder how much money he’s cost himself? Before the season i would have put the floor at 3/30 and had him as a likely QO candidate. Will some team even give him 2/20?

    • MannyGeee

      Someone will overpay (well, overpay in our eyes) Phil Hughes to be a mid rotation guy, with the mindset of “he was a former 1st rounder, we can fix him” thought process.

      I am actually starting to think San Diego might be the team. But Axisa’s San Francisco prediction fits as well seeing as Timmy is as good as gone.

    • RetroRob

      A lot. And I’m sure the Yankees were looking forward to getting a draft pick from him, which is not going to happen. So basically they got a bad year of pitching, no draft pick, and he’ll be gone.

      A reasonable, league-average year that Hughes has shown when healthy in 2012 and 2010 would have made him worth a QO. All he’s done since mid-season is pitch as poorly as he has in his career since joining the majors.

      It’s not even as if the Yankees can shift him to the pen in 2014. Some team will make him an offer to be a starter away from Yankee Stadium, so he’ll take it to try and build value. Even on a one-year deal, they’ll offer him more than the Yankees will be be a reliever.

      Phil’s career on the Yankees is ending about as poorly as possible, for both him and the Yankees.

      • jjyank

        Yeah, this. If he had been even league average, the Yankees could probably get away with offering him a QO. In fact, I was sure they would just a few months ago. But now? No way. Hughes won’t get jack from the Yankees, and he’d be lucky to get anything more than a pillow/prove yourself contract on an NL West team.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          He’s cost himself money for sure. We were talking 4/60 a while ago. I think he’s damn lucky if he gets 2/16 from someone.

  • Eddard

    I just knew they’d lose yesterday because it was the obligatory Phil Hughes loss. They can’t go every 5 days guaranteed an L. If they do not win the next 2 games they are eliminated, maybe not officially but it will be over.

    I don’t think Cashman will let them dump Hughes for the same reason why he won’t dump Joba, he doesn’t want to admit failure even though he has failed on just about everything he has done. And he’s actually failed on the things he hasn’t done like the Soriano deal, brokered by Hal.

    • MannyGeee

      Cashman failed!!!

      • HateMclouth (formerly I’mVernon)

        Cashman fails at admitting failing.

        • hogsmog

          Cashman couldn’t read until he was 28 and thinks the moon landing was faked!

  • Folly of the Pre-determined Outcome

    Adam Warren should get the starts IMO. he’s throwing 92-94 (albeit relief) and he is NOT afraid to throw his change-up. Let’s see what he’s got, can’t be worse than Hughes, and he is here for 2014.

    • RetroRob

      Huff’s a better option at the moment. Warren just isn’t stretched out to be a starter.

      Huff to the rotation, which could be an improvement. Hughes to the pen, which could actually be quite helpful.

      • trr

        I hear you Rob, but I’d feel better about Huff if he had a better track record.

        • jjyank

          Of course. But it’s not like Warren has much of a track record either.

          Any way, I don’t think either one is a slam dunk decision.

        • RetrRob

          True, which is why I said could. I figure he’ll be no worse than what we’ve had from Hughes so far, and Hughes might actually make the bullpen quite strong if he can produce similar to what we saw in 2009. Pitching a couple innings at a time, I think he can.

          Yet as jjyank says, none of this is a slam dunk.

    • David

      I agree, let him get the start. He’s not stretched out, but see how he can do going three to four innings. Hughes can pitch one or two in relief.

  • Neil

    The Pillar AB with two outs and a runner in scoring position is a perfect example of Hughes on the mound. Blows two fastballs by him, throws a couple of breaking balls failing to induce a swing and never goes back to the fastball that Pillar couldn’t touch. Yes, Pillar hit a pitch that was two inches off the ground but it should not have come to that.

  • KeithK

    Trading for someone on September 1 might be an option. Yes, the guy couldn’t pitch in the playoffs if we get there, but you only need four guys then anyway. And the price should be lower in September.

  • Hearn

    Phil Hughes. Master of the 0-2, 1-2 Meatball Pitch. If you can’t put batters away during those counts a decent percentage of the time, you will fail….and he has proven again and again that he cannot.

    I’m sure he’ll go 16-9 next year in Minnesota or Pittsburgh and I wish him luck (he seems like a nice guy), but some people just aren’t cut out for playing for the New York Yankees.

  • Al

    “You win with pitching”…..2 Big reasons for failed season
    CC and Hughes

  • Preston

    The most over-used stat on this site is where x pitcher ranks among qualified starters. The key word there is QUALIFIED STARTERS that means pitchers who have kept their jobs. There are at every given moment 150 starting pitchers in baseball. Now many of the non-qualified guys are due to injury, but a lot of other guys aren’t on that list because their performance didn’t merit them keeping their job. Phil Hughes has been bad, but the reason he’s kept his job so far is that it could be a lot worse. In fact the guy we wish was healthy enough to replace him, David Phelps, is one of the 80 pitchers who have made starts this year to have an ERA higher than Hughes.

    • Eddard

      The reason he’s kept his job is because Phelps, Nuno and Pineda aren’t ready to fill in. And Cashman refuses to admit that he failed with Hughes and Joba. Hell, Cashman will probably offer them both multi year deals in the offseason.

      • Preston

        David Phelps may be a better pitcher than Phil Hughes. But it isn’t a certainty. He has 182 innings in the big leagues and a lot of that has been as a reliever. And the idea that he’s the promising young pitcher who hasn’t been giving a chance and Phil is used up and worthless is silly. Hughes is four months older than Phelps. The difference is that Hughes stuff has allowed him to try and develop at the big league level, while Phelps has been developing in college and the minors. They are both equally likely to substantially improve their abilities.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Logic and reason get you nowhere in a Phil Hughes post.

  • the Real Greg

    This is what I was talking about last night. Scour the depths of the Earth for pitching.

    Get more pitching.

    • Betty Lizard

      Scour the bowels of hell if need be.

  • Elton Cod

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Where’s Freddy Garcia when you need him?

    • MannyGeee

      In the room next to Hector Salamanca at Casa Tranquila Nursing Home, Albuquerque.


      • Roadgeek Adam

        Braves at the moment. Acquired from the Orioles after Brandon Beachy went down…again.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        We’re catching up, I see.

  • JC

    Why not call up Marshall and see what he can do? He had a stellar game last night. Lines up perfectly for Hughes next start

    • trr

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marshall here after Sept 1.

    • Preston

      Replace the guy struggling at the majors with an ERA under 5 with the guy struggling at AAA with an ERA over 5.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        What could go wrong there?

        In all seriousness, I think people are suggesting throwing shit at the wall to see what stick because that’s precisely what the Yanks would have to do in place of Hughes if they pulled him at this point.

  • Database Error

    Let’s face it, they’re not taking him out of the rotation. They couldn’t afford to lose last night’s game, and still they ran him out there. That he shit the bed yet again was to be completely expected.

    He has absolutely no out pitch. Anyone with eyes can see this, but somehow they keep giving him the ball.

    At this point, the best we can hope for is that Cashman, in a moment of clarity, realizes that giving him a qualifying offer would be a bad idea. Enough is enough. Send Hughes on his way.

  • JLC 776

    Ugh… I so want him to do well – especially as he has this tendency to string together several really good starts from time to time. I always feel like he’s on the verge of figuring something out and becoming a consistently good pitcher. But, dammit, he just keeps looking like so much crap out there.

    • Roadgeek Adam

      I feel the same way, really. I want pitchers to throw no-hitters every time up and if not, a quality outing. (Hell it’s been 14 years.)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yeah but, with basically a month left in his Yankee career, I am done caring if it ever comes in pinstripes. Just win, baby.

  • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

    “that ranks 80th out of 85 qualified starting pitchers”

    This makes it sound much worse than it is. There are 30 teams, so that makes 150 starting pitcher slots. The reason only 85 out of 150 qualify is that most of the other 65 have sucked so much that they lost their starting jobs. Even if Phil ranked 100th out of 150 slots, that would still make him serviceable.

    I’m not saying Phil is good, or even that’s he’s not terrible, just that saying he’s 80th out of 85 makes him sounds he’s a lot worse than he is.

    • Mike HC

      I don’t think Mike is trying to hide that fact though. I think it actually properly places how shitty he has been. Basically, not many guys who pitch this shitty have been allowed to accumulate this many innings.

  • Greg

    I’d go with Chris Bootcheck. He’s in AAA, he’s started (well) all year, and he can’t be (much) worse than Hughes.

  • ruralbob

    I saw that Chien Ming Wang was DFA’d

  • Wj

    This is fully 100 percent on our player devolpment staff. Joba and hughes had great stuff, dominated in minors, pitched well in the beginning of there careers and then flamed out because they just knew how to throw and not pitch. When is the last time we devolped a front line pitcher? Andy Pettite? That was 20 years ago and there are differe t people here now, Chien Ming Wang? He wasnt really a prospect, he just came up and succesded. Its a joke, curt schilling made a great point the other day. All the guys the yankees praise as top prospects always fail while all of our guys that go under the redar succseed. So irritating seeing all of our prospects flame out year after year.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      When it comes to developing it has been a mixed bad and that’s being generous.

      • Wj

        Thats being extremly generous, we need guys like williams and sanchez, heathcott, austin to step up and there not

        • The Big City of Dreams

          True they are banking on those guys to make an impact. They have taken a step back when the org. was hoping they would step forward.

        • Robinson Tilapia


    • Kenny

      Maybe this is a bit extreme, but probably not by much. It tells you, though, that the organization itself may be in real trouble and need a housecleaning.

      • Wj

        Id promote cashman to head of baseball operations, then hire a gm, new player devolpment staff and new medical team. Cashman is burnt out , give him a job where he can advise but not run the day to day operations

        • The Big City of Dreams

          That might not be a bad idea.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Let’s run down the AL East.

        Toronto pretty much sent a rotation’s worth of young pitchers to Dr. Andrews in the past few years.

        Baltimore overpromoted several pitching prospects better than what the Yankees ever had to the point of incompetency.

        Boston’s had their fair share of duds, although there’e a better track record there.

        Tampa’s a bunch of freaks who also lost for a gazillion years although, yes, they’ve developed good players since changing their fortune.

        It’s a crapshoot for everyone but, hey, this is a Phil Hughes post.

  • mick taylor

    hughes is the reason yanks will not make playoffs. if he were a mediocre 8-8, they would be tied for the wildcard. i just think that anyone is better than hughes the rest of this season. whatever happened to nunno

    • Kenny

      I don’t know about that. After all, CC didn’t help either. And if they’d had Tex, Granderson, ARod, Youk, and Jeter all year, Hughes’s record (and CCs!) might be somewhat better. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong (just about) this season.

  • Kramerica Industries

    To me, the worst part about Phil’s starts are that they follow the exact same frustrating pattern; he shows a live fastball, gets ahead 0-2 an effing ton of the time, and then ends up giving up a ton of foul balls, runs into deep counts, and becomes very hittable during the process. Hughes is as inefficient as he is ineffective. It’s a disaster by this point; you truly could not trust him to pitch a good game against a horrible Blue Jays team as it was, but he still managed to completely underachieve relative to expectations last night. He cannot be trusted in any way, shape, or form.

    It’s just been a complete disaster this season, and right now, Phil is a big reason why the Yankees stand where they stand at the moment. The only blessing in all of this is that, the more we see of Phil, the more likely it is we won’t have to deal with it beyond 2013. I mean, it’s seemed for a while anyway that Phil was on the outs after 2013, but the last couple months have gone a long way in confirming that.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Phil.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Bring up Simon De La Rosa from the DSL.


  • Old Kinderhook

    There is untapped value here, if only we are willing to tap it. Teach Hughes and CC both to play first base. With CC playing first, let Phil get to 2 strikes on every hitter (he’s actually the best in baseball at this), then switch positions with CC, who will get the out.

    Two pitching problems solved. By the way, CC actually covered first base once this year!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Joe Maddon, is that you?

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    People have gotten away with murder before. Can’t they just kill Hughes?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I have a friend who used to work for the Bronx DA’s office. His motto always was, “if you’re going to kill someone, do it in the Bronx” due to the high probability that someone on the law enforcement side will screw things up at some point and you’ll get away with it.

      Maybe Ryan Braun’s evidence handler was from the Bronx.

      Anyways, no, we should not be condoning murder here. His only crime is being mediocre.

      • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

        Note, though, that the idea had to be seriously considered before it was rejected.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      That’s drastic

  • Bo Knows

    I don’t want Haren, I frankly don’t trust him, his homer rate is actually higher than Hughes’ and he not only plays most games sans the DH but also in significantly bigger ballparks than he would see in the AL East.

  • yeayo

    In order for Hughes to have success as a starter, he needs to diversify his pitching arsenal. Right now, he is a two pitch pitcher – fastball & slurve. He would be able to get by with that if his fastball had movement and velocity, but he has neither. He needs to bring his curveball and changeup back into the mix. It is the only he will be able to keep hitters off balance.

    • LarryM Fl

      You would think the coaching staff had informed Phil of this possibility years ago.

  • LarryM Fl

    IMHO if you are to judge Phil Hughes version 2013. Drop his record look at his era, whip, K’s, BB, innings pitched and pitches thrown. You will see a pitcher and we all know this who has no out pitch. He tried to develope many out pitches. He has tried the curve, knuckle curve,slider and change-up. Obviously, none has worked for him. His pitch count runs high most games as players are able to foul off pitches until they square one off. Phil probably leads the league in two strike counts. If all these years have brought no out pitch than his best option on the Yankees is bullpen. Where he ca throw his dominating fastball all day and dare hitters to hit it but here is the rub, Phil suffers from limited control of his location which is where he gets pounded.

    No QO but a two year deal as bullpen pitcher for 6/7 per year. To me he is better in his 2009 role which was a very good match. If someone does better than us. Phil leaves.

  • Nathan

    Man, I still remember when he was supposed to be the future ace, highly touted and was going to bring a golden age to the rotation.

    If you would have told me he and Joba would be where they are now, I wouldn’t have believed you, especially after the early success both had. Right or wrong, I’ll always see these two as a pair.

  • Mondoas

    The fact that the Yankees keep sending Hughes out to the mound proves they are insane! Doing something over and over expecting a different result!! How is it that everyone on this board knows Hughes shouldn’t be pitching but the professionals, manager..GM…don’t??!!