Monday, May 3, 2010

Phil Hughes Growing Up

Phil Hughes entered the season as the Yankees' No. 5 starter.

He's pitched like anything but.



Sunday Hughes allowed four hits and one walk while striking out six in seven shutout innings as the Yankees routed the Chicago White Sox 12-3 at Yankee Stadium to win their seventh series of the season in eight tries. Hughes threw 69 of 99 pitches for strikes and had it not been for the Yankees' five-run seventh inning that took about a half hour to complete, he probably could have gone back out for the eighth.

In four starts this season, Hughes is 3-0 with a league-best 1.44 ERA and .122 batting average against. He's clearly been the Yankees' best starter so far this season, which is saying something, considering the only starter with an ERA above 3.12 is Javier Vazquez.

Associated Press
Hughes has pitched about as well as anyone could have dreamed and it is tempting to declare that he has fulfilled the potential that the Yankees and scouts saw in him when they drafted him out of high school in 2005. But that would be jumping the gun.

Let's remember Hughes is still young, turning 24 in June, and it's a long season. Four starts do not make a season and there is going to come a stretch when Hughes struggles for three of four starts. How Hughes responds to that adversity will teach us a lot more about him.

But what we have to like so far is that Hughes clearly is building off the success he found as a reliever last season. He is pitching with a ton of confidence -- and when it comes down to it, isn't that the biggest key to success?

 He believes in his fastball, curve and splitter, and is developing confidence in his new changeup. He has developed some poise and he is growing up.

And all of that is reason to believe that Hughes is on his way to becoming the type of pitcher we've all heard he can become.

Up Next
Today vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m., YES
Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70) vs. CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12)

Guthrie had better have some better command or else some of his teammate could end up with some bruises. Guthrie has hit 17 batters in his career, nine Yankees -- and while the Yankees know he isn't throwing at them intentionally, the hitters have to be protected. 

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