Phil Hughes has put together back-to-back quality starts for the New York Yankees after a dismal opening to the 2012 season. Although his 2012 numbers currently don't look too great—5.50 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, 3-4 record, 5.1 innings per start—he has shown signs of improvement over each of his past three starts.
With his status in the rotation up in the air for most of April, Hughes has since silenced many of his doubters and is working on establishing himself as a consistently reliable starter.
The last—and only—time he was considered a reliable starter was 2010. That season, he posted 18 wins and an ERA of 4.19. He started 29 games for the Yankees that season, and he was a very valuable piece of the rotation.
Now, the question is whether or not his recent triumphs indicate that he is back to that form.
Fans have to realize that Hughes has never been a dominant starter, so his 5.50 ERA shouldn't be terribly alarming. It will continue to look better after each passing quality start, but we shouldn't expect an ERA in the threes from him. And his K/9 and BB/9 are actually better this season than they were in 2010 (8.5 to 7.5 and 2.3 to 3.0, respectively).
If he's truly back to form, then he'll continue to post these strong ratios for the remainder of the season.
After two or three good starts in a row, Hughes has done much to impress the Yankees. That being said, it's still too early to tell if he's back to 2010 form. After three more starts or so, we'll be able to make a much more accurate assessment.
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