Wanger had a better outing last night and seems to finally be putting things together. Another story from last night, however, is the dominance that Phil Hughes appears to be exhibiting out of the bullpen. Once again, his fastball averaged 94mph, which is about 3mph faster than a typical start for him. He went two innings, giving up only a single hit, with no walks and 2 strikeouts.
Contrasting Phil Phranchise’s stats as a starter versus his stint out of the pen reveals a stark difference. His ERA is more than 3 points lower (2.35 to 5.45, his average against is almost .100 points lower (.179 to .276), and his k/9 is well over 9, versus a sub-9 mark as a starter. It’s become obvious, judging by how hard Joba and Phil have to work as a starter versus the relative ease with which they dispatch helpless batters in relief, that the starting role is much more difficult. This we’ve always known, but the two neophytes make this fact that much more apparent with every appearance.
This is why Hughes should be yanked from the pen immediately and sent back down to AAA. Whaaat? But you just said how good he was as a reliever. Yes, but it just goes to show you how tough it is to find good starting pitchers and how much work Joba and Phil need to put in to fulfill their ultimate potential. Joba needs to figure out how to maintain consistent velocity over 7-8 innings while reducing the violence of his motion and keeping his pitch count down. Phil needs to further refine his cutter and get more consistency with his curve, particularly the spike curve. Both players desperately need to stay healthy and up their innings count over the course of the season. All these skills can only be learned and earned by starting. Hopefully, we’ll make the playoffs, and Phil can make a dynamite reliever in the post-season after he’s eaten his recommended yearly allowance of innings, but until then, he should start, be it in the majors or the minors.