Hughes’ Underlying Performance

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Last night the Yankees won a very well-played game and outplayed Minnesota in every part of the game for the second straight day. Russell Martin hit two homers, Derek Jeter had two hits and scored two runs, and Robbie Cano had another big game as well. But probably the biggest part of this one was Phil Hughes outing. He allowed one run on two hits and three walks while striking out two over seven frames. But was he as dominant as the line shows?

The answer is no. I saw some writers on Twitter saying how good he looked and one in particular went on to say that it was the best he has looked in over a year. I could maybe get on board with the former comment, but the latter is a bit ridiculous. I think he looked a lot better in his start in Chicago a few weeks back. In that outing, he struck out four, walked none, and probably would have gone more than six innings if it weren’t for the rain.

Back to last night’s start, a look at the peripherals will show that Hughes was playing with fire, for lack of a better term. He posted a GB% of around 30%, an unsustainable BABIP of around .045, only recorded two swinging strikes, and was only sitting at around 92 mph with the fastball until it dipped as the game went on.

Don’t get me wrong, Hughes still worked efficiently, only needing 106 pitches to get through almost eight frames, but he wasn’t dominant against a Jim Thome-less Minnesota lineup that I think he should have begging for mercy (only two guys in last night’s Twins lineup had an OBP over .300!!).

There are definitely good things we can take from this start and maybe it gave Hughes some confidence, but we should approach his next start with skepticism and not expect another game of almost eight innings of one-run ball.

On The Hughes Blues

Phil Hughes is scheduled to make his fifth start since coming off the disabled list tonight and it’s probably his most important. The Yankees have been talking about going with a six man rotation, but Hughes, the weakest link as of right now, might not stay in it much longer. With Ivan Nova’s solid start on Saturday night, a bad start tonight for Phil could mean he will lose his spot.

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I mean it does make sense. Hughes hasn’t been nearly the same pitcher he was last year. After striking out more than seven per nine innings in 2010, that total is now down to around four and a half while he is walking almost one more per nine. He has lost an average of two miles per hour on his fastball which has forced him to use it 8% less which has made him use his curveball 6% more. This all being said, he is missing almost 4% less bats which is bringing down his numbers.

So if Hughes were to underperform tonight, what would happen? They can’t just keep sending him out there every six or so days to get killed. It hurts him and it hurts the team. Well, a lot of people say that he should go to the bullpen, but what good does that do him and the team? He has proven that he can be an effective starter and he would the most value as a starter. Since this rules out the bullpen, why not do what they did with Ivan Nova and send him to Scranton to work on a few things and get his confidence up.

So a lot will be put into tonight’s start. He has made two poor starts in a row and a third one may be the last straw. The Yanks are still trying to win ball games and Hughes is not helping that. I hope he pitches well and is able to somewhat bounce back, but at this point I just don’t see that happening.

Hughes’ First Minor League Rehab Assignment

Phil Hughes made his first Minor League rehab assignment and it was very successful.  He threw 61 pitches while going 4.1 innings allowing three hits and walk while striking out seven and yielded one run on a homer.  He apparently sat at 92-93 and hit 95 on the gun, although there are varying reports as to whether he held his velocity throughout the start. Either way, it’s a step forward, but he’s still rebuilding arm strength and is about a month away.

Hughes To Make Rehab Start On Sunday

Via RAB, Phil Hughes threw a simulated game down in Tampa today and it went great,  He reportedly hit 91-93 on the radar gun with his fastball consistently and said he felt great.  the next step is a 65-pitch rehab start for Class-A Staten Island, who starts their short season on Friday.  He will be pitching at MCU Park in Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, so if you’re in the area, check it out.  I will be at the game, so I’ll probably send out some tweets.  Expect about another month until Phil is back in pinstripes.

Injury Updates On Soriano, Hughes, And Chavez

Here are some injury updates on some Yankees currently on the disabled list:

  • There’s a pretty good chance that Rafael Soriano will being some light throwing next week, but nothing is set in stone and they don’t want to rush him.
  • Phil Hughes’ bullpen sessions have gone well and he will make a minor league rehab start on Tuesday.  Don’t get too excited, however, because they are going to take this very slow.  Expect him to make five starts or so before returning.
  • Lastly, Eric Chavez has started some light hitting drills, but is still not able to run yet, so he’s still gonna be a while.

Some Injury Notes

Here are a couple of injury reports and other stuff from Yankee player in the major and minor league levels:

  • Phil Hughes 30 pitches in a bullpen session and feels good.  He will take today off, throw tomorrow, and if he feels good then, he will make a minor league rehab outing on Monday.  Let’s hop for the best there.
  • Jesus Montero has been out of each Triple A Scranton’s last three games with an eye infection.  He should be back in the next couple of days.
  • Kanekoa Texeira was injured in Scranton’s game last night and will be placed on the disabled list.  Tim Norton has been called up from Double A Trenton to replace him.  Norton has been very good this year pitching to a 1.55 ERA, saving six games, and having a 44/8 K/BB ratio.

Hughes BP Goes Well

Phil Hughes threw his round of BP today in Anaheim and according to Larry Rothschild, things went very well.  He said that Hughes did a very good job of maintaining arm speed.  If he feels good in the next few days, he will go down to Extended Spring Training and get stretched out before making a minor league rehab assignment.  It’s a step in the right direction, but he still has a while to go.