With Phil Hughes having stepped into perhaps the biggest shoes in Baseball over the past few days (and doing so flawlessly) I wanted to take a minute to compare what Hughes has done this year as a reliever to what Joba Chamberlain did working in the bullpen in 07. You don’t hear as much starter/reliever debate with him, or anyone making a big deal about the ‘Hughes Rules’ which apply to him every bit as much as the ‘Joba Rules’ did in 07, but Phil Hughes has been just as effective working as a reliever as Joba was. The main difference has been in style. Joba burst on the scene in 2007 with 100 MPH fastballs and screaming fist pumps, wheras Phil Hughes has quietly gone about his business dismantling hitters. I also think the fact that Hughes has been around for a while mutes the impact of what he’s done, and it shouldn’t.
Here’s the numbers:
2007 Joba (as a Reliever)
IP-24 H-12 SO-34 BB-6 ERA-0.38
2009 Phil Hughes (as a Reliever)
IP-40.2 H-22 SO-54 BB-10 ERA-1.11
Joba BB/9 IP was 2.66 per 9 innings pitched
Sir Philip’s BB/9 IP stands at 2.24 per 9 innings pitched.
Joba SO/9 IP was 12.75 per 9 innings pitched
Sir Philip’s SO/9 IP stands at 12.09 per 9 innings pitched.
Its like a Baseball version of a Miss Universe pageant, choose which one suits your fancy the best. It also says a lot about how someone who’s talented enough to be a good starting pitcher can utterly dominate as a reliever, since most relievers are failed starting pitchers. That’s not all that surprising, since many starting pitchers are best their first time through a lineup.
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