In two starts this season, Phil Hughes has yet to show the New York Yankees that he belongs in the team's starting rotation and in turn, could be sent packing to the bullpen when Andy Pettitte returns.
Hughes pitched worse than he did in his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays when he went 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five.
Against the Los Angeles Angels in his second start of 2012, Hughes went 3.1 innings and allowed six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out six.
When Pettitte does make his inevitable return, it will be either Hughes or veteran Freddy Garcia that will get the boot since, at the moment, they are the Yanks' two worst starters.
Hughes has the advantage over Garcia because of his age and upside, but if Garcia can prove that he can help New York win better than Hughes, the Yanks won't hesitate to stick with the vet and move the young right-hander to the pen.
Garcia wasn't that impressive in his first start, much like Hughes. However, if Garcia can come out in his second outing of 2012 and pitch well, he could instantly have a leg up in the battle to keep his job.
All Hughes had to do was be competitive and give the Bombers some quality starts. Even if his numbers weren't necessarily better than Garcia's, the Yanks would still stick with their former top-prospect for the reasons I mentioned above.
But so far this season, Hughes hasn't looked competitive and is giving the Yankees all the reasons they need to justify sending him to the bullpen come May.
With a little over two weeks left until the Yankee legend returns to his rightful spot in the Bombers' starting five, Hughes must do much better if he wants to prove he belongs in the Yanks' rotation for the remainder of the season.