And Hughes preformed exactly how I thought he would: terribly.
I have received endless criticism from LLP readers about my harsh stance on Hughes not having the stuff to be a starter and that his 2010 season was a fluke.
Yes, Hughes went 18-8 in 2010 (baseball-reference.com), but in 14 of the wins, the Yankees scored six or more runs, which was the most run support in baseball. Hughes pitched 176 innings and gave up 25 home runs, which is not typical for an 18-game winner who made 31 starts.
Hughes was voted to the All-Star team in 2010 as his wins record turned a decent first-half into something it was not. And ever since Hughes pitched in that All-Star game, he has not gotten back to being even close to decent again.
The real Hughes was on display in yesterday’s loss; he couldn’t complete four innings, allowed six runs to score but managed to strike out five Halos in another pathetic outing.
And I hate to gloat…but I told you so.
Everyone is so focused on how Hughes looks on the radar gun. Yesterday was no different, as there were references to his velocity returning to the low to mid 90’s again, but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?
It doesn’t, because the fact is Hughes cannot finish hitters off because they figure him out, like they did in the second half of 2010, like the Angels did yesterday and like the Rays did a week ago. That, my friends, loses games.
Just watching Albert Pujols down 0-2 in his second at-bat, you could tell that he had figured Hughes out. On the third pitch, he hit a double.
The reality is, Hughes is good for about two innings, as he proved successfully during the 2009 regular season coming out of the bullpen.
The question is, how many more chances are Cashman and Girardi going to give Hughes when there are other viable options that would give the Yankees a better chance to win?
And that option is David Phelps.
Phelps took over for Hughes in the fourth inning, with the Yankees already down 0-6, and he finished the game allowing just one home run over five-and-a-half innings of work.
Phelps has been a force out of the bullpen this season, as he throws with total confidence and is not scared to challenge guys like Albert Pujols, who could not figure him out.
Phelps is really a starter who has not gotten much attention in the minors, but there is such a thing as a diamond in the rough, like how the Knicks found Jeremy Lin.
This obsession of making Hughes and Chamberlain starters has gone on since 2007, and it has failed.
Ironically, the moment the Yankee brass stopped forcing to keep Joba in the rotation, he found a niche in the bullpen and has been extremely effective in helping the Yankees win games.
If the Yankees overlook what Phelps did yesterday and keep Hughes in the rotation, there is a bigger problem here.
Cashman and Girardi’s job is to put the best team on the field. That entails moving Hughes to the bullpen and giving Phelps a shot in the rotation to show what he can do until Pettitte or Pineda return.
Hughes will be more useful coming out of the bullpen like he was before. And if not, trade him; that 18-game winner everyone is waiting to appear is never coming back. That guy never really existed in the first place.