Found June 20, 2013 on
Behind in the Count:
Brad Penner- USA TODAY Sports
Phil Hughes has been pretty awful for the New York Yankees.
Through the first month of the 2013 season, Hughes looked like a very good pitcher. Though he’d only produced one win, he had just one start in which he gave up more than three earned runs. His HR/9 rate looked as though it might be under control and he had a five start stretch where he struck out 33 batters.
But just as his pitching looked as though he was on his way to a repeat of his terrific 2010 season, the wheels have come flying off.
Hughes currently holds a 5.09 ERA (4.43 FIP) and teams are hitting .282 against him. His BABIP is a little bit higher than his career average and he’s producing a ton of fly balls–10.9% of which end up as home runs.
For a hard thrower like Hughes, you want your strikeout rate to be better than the 20.7% Hughes is sporting so far. His BB% is 6.7%–which is good–but its only that low because hitters are making a ton of contact against him; 10.2 H/9 is much too high.
Below is a look at his outcomes in 2013 (click for larger view):
Hughes’ career has been an amalgam of ups and downs. The Yankees have been very patient with him, even going so far as refusing to deal him earlier in his career for some big-name talent. Even while in the bullpen, you never were too sure what you were getting from him.
It’s hard to say where he performs better because he can be so inconsistent in both roles.
One thing is for sure, his job is in jeopardy–perhaps his time in pinstripes as well.
The near future holds the impending return of Michael Pineda. What, exactly, the Yankees will get out of Pineda is very uncertain. Yet when he’s ready, you have to assume that he’ll be inserted into the rotation on at least a part-time basis. The Yankees want–rather, need–Pineda to succeed despite the disaster that Jesus Montero has turned out to be for the Seattle Mariners.
There is also the Ivan Nova situation. Nova is cruising in Triple-A and is beckoning to be brought back up. We’ve seen this before out of Nova and he’s yet to prove he can handle a spot in a big league rotation for an extended period of time.
Nova is a sort of ‘Hughes v2′–the Yankees are hesitant to offer him in any trade package and they’ve demonstrated patience with him even though in reality he may be nothing more than a ‘Quad-A’ type pitcher.
At this point, regardless of the uncertainty of Nova and Pineda, Hughes has got to go to the bullpen.
He’s produced just one win and has pitched seven innings just twice since May 10th. Batters have a .351 wOBA against Hughes and his strikeout rate has been declining in his last 10 starts.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see Hughes on the trading block next month. Though moving him to the ‘pen might depreciate his value, the Yankees should be on the lookout for any team offering some MLB-ready prospects.
It would benefit the Yankees to have an arm like Hughes in the bullpen. Hughes seems to do better in short bursts but that doesn’t always translate into a consistent performance upon each appearance. No matter, the Yankees need to get him out the rotation–his ERA at least 1.5 runs higher than any other starter. While he’s not fully to blame for the Yankees current slide, he’s definitely a part of it.
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