Apr 30, 2008


That's how I'd classify Phil Hughes' start tonight. I was hoping and expecting a solid outing but got another disappointing game where he only lasted 3.2 innings.

Can someone tell me what happened to his fastball command, an area he excelled in throughout the minors and during his first start of 2008? It's completely disappeared. That's one problem.

The killer was walking Granderson to lead-off the game. You cannot walk the lead-off hitter, whether it's in the first inning or anything inning thereafter. A 55-foot wild pitch two batters later moved two runners into scoring position, which was followed by a two-run single. Side note: if Melky Cabrera is playing center (instead of getting a day off), he holds Detroit to just one run there.

Either Al Leiter or John Flaherty made the point that of Hughes 80+ pitches, only five were not a fastball or curve (meaning a slider or changeup). Those pitches aren't bad: the changeup has good deception and the slider Hughes can throw for strikes almost at will. Using just two pitches is essentially being a reliever, except that the hitters get to face him multiple times. Maybe it's a confidence thing, but that's another problem.

Peter Abraham makes a good point that Hughes has thrown to four different catchers already this year, which might be a reason that he can't seem to get into a groove. There were at least three cross-ups with him and newly-promoted catcher Chris Stewart. Hughes hasn't had the same catcher in consecutive starts all year. That's a third problem.

Ross Ohlendorf should get a ton of credit for keeping us close, going 3.1 scoreless innings in relief (with five Ks). And it wouldn't kill us to get a hit with runners in scoring position. The Yanks had runners on 2nd and 3rd in the first - out. We loaded the bases in the 3rd with two outs - out. The bases were loaded again in the 8th - a walk garnered one run, then an out. Overall, eight runners were left in scoring position to end an inning. Ugh.

I really hope Hughes can get it together soon because the fans are turning ugly. They booed him was he walked off the mound - it was disgusting. The guy is the youngest pitcher in all MLB and is going through growing pains. Booing him will do anything but help.

Last but not least: who would replace Hughes right now? Igawa? Rasner? I'd much rather watch Hughes struggle and learn than watch guys with no future take starts away from promising pitchers. But if these poor starts continue (another 3-4 games), I wouldn't be totally averse to making him the long reliever and bringing up a Scranton starter. It would take a lot of pressure off and allow him to get his confidence back.

- The Yanks are down two of their best hitters, as Posada and Arod have been placed on the 15-day DL.

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