Hughes and Finishing

One of the biggest problems we’ve noticed with Phil Hughes over the last…forever, really…is his inability to put hitters away once he got to two strikes. It seemed like batters would hit an endless number of foul balls and then take pitches to even the count or get back ahead, and eventually, they’d reach via something hit way too hard for having two strikes. So for last night’s game, I decided to track the results when Hughes got ahead of the hitters, either 0-2 or 1-2, to see how he fared when he got ahead. Of course, I realize now this isn’t exactly scientific without comparing it to his other starts, but this is a jumping off point.

In the first inning, Hughes faced four batters and got ahead 0-2 or 1-2 on all of them. Here’s the sequencing. After falling behind 1-2, Endy Chavez saw five pitches. He fouled off three in a row, took a ball to make it 2-2, then struck out swinging. Next, J.J. Hardy also fell behind 1-2. One pitch later, he grounded out. Third hitter Nick Markakis was down 0-2 before taking a ball, fouling off a pitch, and then blooping one into left (at least that’s what John Sterling called it). Like he did with the first two batters, Hughes got ahead of Adam Jones 1-2, but Jones hit the very next pitch, a deep fly ball to right field for an out.

In the second inning, only Nick Johnson fell behind, and that was in a 1-2 count. He fouled off one pitch, then hit a tapper back to Hughes.

No one fell behind 0-2 or 1-2 in the 3rd.

In the fourth, Hughes got ahead of Chris Davis 0-2 and then threw two balls and allowed Davis to foul one off before Davis flew out to Eduardo Nunez. Wilson Betemit dropped down 0-2, took a ball, and then struck out swinging.

The fifth was a repeat of the third.

In the sixth, Nick Markakis fell behind again, then flew out to Andruw Jones. Adam Jones also fell behind a second time. He took a ball, fouled one off, took another ball, then grounded out to Robinson Cano.

All told, Phil Hughes threw 23 pitches when he was up 0-2 or 1-2 to nine batters. Obviously, nine of those pitches ended the at bat. Six were foul balls. Seven were balls.

Like I said earlier, this isn’t great because I don’t have much to compare these numbers to, but they FEEL better than they’d been in his previous starts. There was some encouragement from this game, as Hughes only walked one and struck out six. But, once again, he couldn’t make it to the sixth inning and surrendered two homers. This start wasn’t great by any means, but it certainly didn’t bury Hughes.

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

11 thoughts on “Hughes and Finishing

  1. tony

    hughes wasn’t all that bad last night. He wasn’t as good as we were needing him to be but he did what any FIFTH starter should get done. Yes fifth starter. The yankees have a nasty habbit of having a young pitcher be good one year and tell them the next you’re our number two guy. Hughes and any other young guy we bring up need to develop at the fifth or fourth starters spots(preferably 5th)until they have the prowess to become a number one or number two starter. On a side note, the umpire last night was very inconsistent. Hughes would have had andino(before the jj homerun) on a called third strike but the ump called it a ball. Keep hughes at the fifth spot and let him ride the season out. We will never develop our young guys if we keep putting all the pressure on them to be something that they can’t be just yet

  2. bpdelia

    Better. And my wife will attest that i threw an empty cup across the room when ue was pulled. Its early and hughes is pitching for his life now. Lets see him yet chris davis out and finish 6. Better but im left wishing id seen him finish 6 and try to do what ml pitchers do

    • roadrider

      Yes, agree 100%. Especially if the alternative was Logan (I won’t get on that soapbox right now) who Davis has good numbers against (admittedly in a very small sample).

      Girardi is not doing much to boost Hughes’ confidence by pulling him in that situation and it’s not like what he did worked (the same way it didn’t work in Texas). Hughes made a terrible pitch to Hardy and had some issues putting guys away but outside of that he had a reasonably good outing.

  3. fredweis

    Cashman needs to trade Hughes before his value implodes. I could see Hughes, Soriano – Sox are desperate for a closer – and a low level prospect to Chicago for Jake Peavy this summer.

    Peavy seems to have finally rounded back into ace form (3-1, 1.67 era, 0.69 whip) and has a $4 million buyout for 2013 (which could lead to a renegotiated contract).

    Type of splashy move that could give the Yanks the edge they seem to be missing.

    • Peavy hasn’t started more than 18 games since ’08. No thanks. It’s also worth noting that even though he’s a big time strikeout guy, and he’s seemingly gotten better control the last few years, his FB tendencies probably won’t play too well in YS3.

      Also, I’d be willing to bet that Hughes’s trade value is already decimated and no oneis trading for Rafael Soriano.

  4. Mark Finke

    Hughes is just soooo frustrating and every fan is just waiting and waiting that he finally gets it but it will probably not happen.
    I would trade him, but not for another pitcher. I would flip him for an outfielder to replace Swish or Granderson for 2013 and beyond.
    Domenic Brown? Looks like the Phillies are down on him. I know he has some trouble in the outfield but Kevin Long can teach him the same stuff he did C-Grand and he could be fine.

    • roadrider

      Domenic Brown?

      And what makes you think the Phillies would do that? Their biggest problem is hitting not pitching. Why would they trade Brown, a guy they could potentially need, for Hughes, a guy they really don’t need, even if they’re down on Brown? Besides, if Hughes has a HR problem in YS3 imagine how he’d fare in CBP.

      I just checked on Fan Graphs and Brown isn’t exactly tearing it up at AAA so far. So, even from the Yankees’ perspective I doubt that this deal makes sense right now.

  5. jerry greene

    Hughes should be given more time based on this last start. I agree that Logan shouldn’t have been brought in at that time. Girardi has a tendency to pull the plug too early. Hughes should have been given a chance to pitch to that batter. Umpire screwed him plus bad play by Nunez put him in hole. He did better job than in his previous starts but has to put men away with 2 strikes quicker

  6. Mark Finke

    Well, he is not tearing it up which compares him to Hughes.
    Of course the Phillies need pitching, but they also need bullpen help and that is where they could use Hughes this season and maybe replace Hamels with him if he departes after this season via free agency.
    And park factor-wise CBP and YS3 aren’t that far off.

  7. For all you fans pushing a trade for Phillip Hughes, get over it. It’s not going to happen. First, check his resume’, next check his age, finally look at how he progressed through the minor leagues. Hughes’ problem is LOCATION. Not lack of stuff or talent. I also think his confidence is shot because of the way he’s been handled. Girardi is so freaking Ridged, Hughes has no time to actually find himself. How many K’s last night? Would you realistically trade a 25 y/o pitcher that can miss bats like that? If you answer yes to that, hopefully Cashman is not as stupid. Hughes was doing great under Joe Torre. He had a no hitter going in Texas in he 7th inning as a Rookie and injured his ham string. Today is May 3rd, not October 3rd. Hughes will find himself if Rothschild can keep Joe Girardi off his A** and give him a chance.

  8. ray

    Since the mid-point of the 18-8 season, Hughes has gone downhill, rivaling Burnett in unreliability. He was most responsible for the 2010 ALCS loss to Texas, stinking up two games. Joba turned out to be a flop, and Hughes is within one last season of being similarly labeled. Unless there is a dramatic turn-around by the end of June, and not necessarily as a starter, since the Yankees cannot afford him that long a leash, he should no longer be considered a viable option. And, I agree, he probably won’t draw too much in a trade. Maybe a Joba/Hughes package could fool someone, the way Seattle fooled the Yankees with Pineda (another bonehead move in a long tradition).

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