Tomorrow, Phil Hughes will make his first start of 2010.
Tomorrow, Phil Hughes will once again take a step towards the future we’ve almost expected him to have since 2004. This time, though, he’ll finally get a full shot at fulfilling that ace potential he’s had ahead of him for his whole career.
In 2007, he pitched 72 league average innings (102 ERA+) with a respectable 7.2 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB. His season was interrupted by an injury in Texas during a no-hit bid.
In 2008, an awful start and another injury cut short Phil’s time in the Majors.
In 2009, a bad roster move pushed Hughes into the bullpen after a mixed bag of starting pitching results.
Though I’m unhappy with the results of the Spring Training fifth starter competition, it’s not because I’m anti-Hughes or something along those lines. I’m just as excited as everyone else is to see Phil Hughes climb onto that mound tomorrow and do his thing. After three frustrating years, Hughes will get an extended shot in the rotation. Hopefully, he’ll stay healthy and effective and prove all the experts right.
But we must remember one thing: while we’ve been patiently waiting for Hughes to be here in full, he has not had much time to start in the Majors. There will be growing pains. In fact, there’s probably a pretty good chance that 2010 Phil Hughes has a season like 2009 Joba Chamberlain; he’ll have flashes of brilliance, flashes of awfulness, and flashes of mediocrity.
It seems as though Phil has been around forever, but he’s only started 28 games (141 innings) for the New York Yankees and he’s not going to be 24 until mid June. Despite all the talent and potential, it will take him time and experience to reach his peak. We may want 2010 to be the year that Hughes reaches his ace-potential, and there’s a small chance it could happen, but deep down we know it’s not likely. What we need to do, then, is sit back and watch. We need to relax when Phil has a bad game and we need to realize that we’ve got years to enjoy this man and his great pitching talent. Good luck in 2010 and the future, Phil. We’re all rooting for you.
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