If it seems like Phil Hughes has been on the cusp of breaking out for years now, that’s because he has. Hughes has been a hot Yankee commodity since 2006. Over that time we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Hughes, overshadowed by bad-to-mediocre pitching. 2010 is often cited as the one season Phil managed to put it all together, but that isn’t really true. That season Hughes pitched 176.1 innings of 4.19/4.25/4.13 baseball, which is a decent line for a back end starter, but the total performance hid the fact that Hughes never posted a FIP below 4.30 in the second half, and had FIPs near 6.00 in July and September. That uneven performance is far from dominance.
Hughes followed up his uneven 2010 with an abominable 2011. Most Yankee fans and baseball analysts had pretty much written him off at that point. Surprisingly, Hughes may have gotten it together this season. Don’t get me wrong. Hughes has managed a 4.13/4.75/4.45 split over 167.2 innings this season, which is hardly Cy Young caliber, but it will get the job done and is a tremendous improvement over 2011.
More importantly, Hughes has been consistent. Granted, he’s been consistently mediocre, posting a FIP between 4.49 and 4.93 every month save April this season, but that’s a stronger contribution than his erratic 2010 performance. Hughes can be counted on to give the Yankees between five and six innings in 2012, while allowing between two and three runs. A manager can plan around that. It’s more difficult to manage Hughes’ games if he’s A.J. Burnett redux, as he has been in the past.
This restored effectiveness and newly discovered consistency make Hughes the Yankees’ third best pitcher down the stretch. While that may not speak wonders for the Yankee rotation, it does say a lot about Hughes. What’s changed this year?
For starters, Hughes is striking out more batters while allowing fewer walks. That’s always a recipe for success. Hughes K% is now 19.8%, right on par with the 20.0% he posted in 2010. His BB%, however, is down to 5.5%, which is the best in his career and far better than 2010′s 8.0%. Hughes has most certainly given up too many homers (1.77 per nine innings, by far the worst of his career) but he is limiting the damage, in part because he’s allowing fewer free passes.
While Hughes is often criticized for lacking an out-pitch, that may actually not be true this season. According to PitchFX Hughes’ slider and changeup have both been above average pitches this year, with his slider as his best offering (worth 7.54 runs per 100 thrown, versus 0.54 for his change). His fastball, on the other hand, has been slightly below average (-0.14 per 100). In all his previous seasons Hughes has done his damage with his fastball. That he is finally mixing in secondary pitches effectively represents a major improvement in Hughes’ development, especially if he can improve his fastball next season.
Phil Hughes may never live up to the hype that once surrounded him, but thus far in 2012 he’s been better than anyone wants to admit. While a league average fourth starter is never something to celebrate, it should mean a lot for Hughes and the Yankees. This is a pitcher who was all but left for dead last season who has now come back to help his team consistently. Furthermore, in two of the past three seasons Hughes has managed to be an average starter. If he can do more of the same in 2013 then we’ll have a legitimate trend on our hands.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees