But after two walks, seven strikeouts and five earned runs over, he got yanked in the middle of the fourth innings. Four of those runs came off a grand slam he gave up to Mike Napoli in the third inning.
The Yankees allowed the Red Sox to put up six more runs, in the humiliating 11-1 defeat.
And to think it just a month it appeared Hughes had finally turned a corner.
Following the pair of what was technically were his warm-ups, Hughes went 2-0 in his next five starts with the Yankees winning four of five.
During that run, Hughes gave up a total of four homers, seven walks, and 12 runs. He struck out 33 batters over a total of 33.2 innings pitched.
Hughes’ ERA prior was 10.27, and he got it all the way down to a 3.60.
Overall Hughes appeared changed. He had an aurora about himself that reeked of self-assurance, like when he came out of the bullpen back in 2009.
Then came Hughes had the worst start of his career on May 15th against the Mariners in the Bronx. He didn’t make it out of the first inning, which was even a first for Hughes so I chalked it up to an off day.
Looking at Hughes first two months it is clear the same old problem, his fastball is flat, and he is not using his slider as much.
In the month of April, Hughes through his four-seam fastball 60% and his slider 22%. In May he started throwing his fastball 68% and used his slider only 15%. (All stats courtesy of brooksbaseball.net)
April - Pitch Counts
Fourseam (FA) 284
Sinker (SI) 5
Slider (SL) 106
Curveball (CU) 40
Changeup (CH) 37
May - Pitch Counts
Fourseam (FA) 306
Cutter (FC) 5
Slider (SL) 69
Curveball (CU) 45
Changeup (CH) 24
The lack of movement on Hughes’ fastball is the one of the main reasons batters are once again finding success hitting him the second time through the order.
For once I believe this is a correctable problem as long as Hughes is willing to put in the extra work to smooth out these kinks.
Hughes has the potential to be a number middle of the rotation starter but only if he becomes more consistent.
Right now Hughes is back to being unreliable again, which is frustrating because the stuff is clearly there.
Also any pitcher, who calls a bandbox home, like Yankee Stadium, can’t get away with much. As little mistakes don’t get over looked, they unluckily get exaggerated.
Bottom line is no team wants to throw caution to the wind every time a middle of the rotation starter is on the bump. It wrecks the bullpen every five days and puts the team at an early disadvantage every fifth day.
Hughes is about to be a free agent at the end of this season, and now the Yankees have no reason to re-sign him.
Luckily for Hughes, time is on his side at least for now but the clock is ticking.
It is time for Phil Hughes to give the Yankees no other choice, but to keep him in pinstripes, or else he might as well start packing now.