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Phil Hughes: Why the New York Yankees Are Trusting Hughes Too Soon, Again

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 25:  Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees leaves the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 25, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Kate ConroySenior Analyst IIMay 14, 2012

The New York Yankees won their second series in a row over the weekend vs. the Seattle Mariners, and it seems that pitcher Phil Hughes has once again managed to keep his spot in the starting rotation.

I will be the first to admit that Hughes pitched better in his last two starts, which were against the Kansas City Royals and Mariners.

Here are the stats from Hughes' last two starts:

As you can see from the stats, Hughes was not the only Yankee playing well in those two team wins. The bats scored 16 runs in total, but to be fair, the Mariners and Royals are not exactly the stiffest of competition. They're also certainly not the type of teams against which I would base any decisions regarding a pitcher’s performance.

The Yankees are not the only ones who have spoon-fed Hughes, as the local media is eating it right up too. The only reluctant group is the fans.

Marc Feinsand of the New York Daily News said about Hughes on NBC’s Mike’d Up last night, “…last year he (Hughes) was supposed to build on that 17-game winning season, but he had injury problems, no fastball, etc.”

Feinsand, who is one of my favorite Yankee columnists, went on to say that Hughes is "starting to find himself" and is getting "into a rhythm." Oh, and don’t forget he is 25 years old.

Well, Hughes is technically still 25 years old for three more weeks, but other than that, I was shocked at the remarks. Hughes came into 2011 out of shape and has never worked hard enough to add a third, strikeout pitch—both facts that are getting overlooked again.

A rhythm is a regularly recurring pattern, which can be good or bad. Feinsand, and he is not alone, was unquestionably speaking positively about Hughes, though the only rhythm I saw was that Hughes only gets wins when the Yankees score six-plus runs.

This whole positive treatment of Hughes has once again left me dumbfounded, and I leave you with these two questions:

  1. How, after two starts—one against the Royals, who can’t win in Kansas City, and the other vs. the offensively anemic Mariners—does this qualify as anything more than beating up on lesser teams?
  2. Would you trust Hughes against any of the other four AL East teams—or any other top team, for that matter?

Please, someone end my agony. I am just not seeing any kind of improvement with Hughes, except for more inflated analysis of his so-so starts.

Personally, I think David Phelps made such a vast improvement between his only two major league starts that the Yankees should have kept him in the rotation and sent Hughes to the bullpen.

At least try out Phelps for a few more starts to see if he keeps getting better, because Hughes certainly doesn’t look much improved—unless you are judging him based on his four crappy starts before these two.

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