Young Gun

In four starts Phil Hughes has done everything humanly possible to prove that the Yankees gave the right guy the number five slot in the starting rotation.  Stats in early May – especially for guys who only appear once every five games – don't portend much for how the season will play out.  But they are all we have to go on.  And in Hughes' case, they are even better than his biggest fans could have seriously expected.

In four starts, Hughes has compiled the best BAA (.122) of any starter in the majors.

Having given up only one XBH all year (a solo HR to none other than Hideki Matsui in Hughes' season debut against the Angels), Hughes has also held opposing hitters to the lowest SLG (.159) and OPS (.393) of any starter.

His WHIP (.880) is sixth lowest in the majors (and second in the AL behind Seattle's Doug Fister) and together with the low SLG % to which he is holding batters translates into very few instances in games where the opposing team appears able to generate much momentum.  It's simply rare that anyone gets into scoring position against him.

Averaging just over 6.1 IP/G, Hughes is not going as deep into games as some of the marquee names whose stats he is rivaling early in the season (Halladay, Lincecum, the resurgent Zito, etc.), but simply being in this company with a handful of starts under his belt is more than anyone could have expected.  Especially given the fact that – at 24 – he is still one of the youngest starters around (tied for 4th youngest in the AL after Rick Porcello, Brett Anderson, and Brian Matusz).

Beyond everything else, Hughes is helping cover for the failings of Javier Vazquez and is presumably building up a reservoir of confidence to dip into whenever the inevitable dips in performance hit him as the long season wears on.  How he handles those dips and how long they last will be very interesting to see.  But for now, he is winning more than his fair share of games for the Yankees and making Cashman and Girardi look good for pulling him out of the pen when they did.

9 comments… add one
  • been waiting for this update…thanks IH
    yeah, it’s early, and he will no doubt level off somewhere less than how he’s currently performing, but what a good story…the yankees have always been criticized for not being patient with their young guys, so it’s good to see another home grown guy perhaps dispel that criticism…

    dc May 3, 2010, 11:09 am
  • Yeah dc – on the home-grown youth front, I wavered between the above and a post about the three home-grown guys who are helping fuel the early success the Yanks are experiencing this season (Gardner, Cano, and Hughes) but a. I didn’t have time for the latter and b. nothing compares to a successful home-grown starter. Hope he can keep it up.

    IronHorse (YF) May 3, 2010, 11:34 am
  • I haven’t been able to watch most of the games, but I have seen Hughes pitch twice now and he looks impressive. Luckily, I have seen no Javy starts.

    Nick-YF May 3, 2010, 11:37 am
  • I hope you don’t see one on Friday Nick…
    PH-ranchise has been awesome. I think his last start was the one that really impressed me because he battled without his best stuff. He looks supremely confident.

    krueg May 3, 2010, 12:01 pm
  • Hughes’ fastball has gained a tick as well – and his cutter has become a devastating weapon, fulfilling the role of that ‘third pitch’ starters need.
    A little off-topic, but here’s something crazy about Cano – his BABIP is .365 – BELOW his current average of .387. He hasn’t been lucky. Not even a bit. He’s just been insanely good.

    AndrewYF May 3, 2010, 12:51 pm
  • > something crazy
    Everything’s crazy about Cano. 12 multi-hit games in 24.. only 12Ks in 104 PAs, which for him is a revelation. A truly remarkable month. Not to be superstitious, but knock wood, he is a special talent. I have picked on him, a lot. He is making me look as dumb as a bucket of bolts, not that I needed his help.

    attackgerbil May 3, 2010, 1:01 pm
  • It’s amazing what this team has accomplished so far without the two biggest bats in the lineup performing to their ability yet. If Cano keeps up half
    Also amazing is the consistency of the pitching staff so far (minus Vazquez, who I have to believe will turn it around). Burnett’s not had his usual insane walk totals so far.

    DustyDrB - YF May 3, 2010, 2:01 pm
  • Yesterday was also – in a way – a great response to those condemning the Yankees’ offseason moves after one month of play.
    Everyone was condemning the Yankees for not trading Hughes for Santana (and I was one of those people that would have made that trade) back in 2008. Look at the situation now – the Yankees have a blossoming young starter under team control for something like 4 more years, while Santana is a clearly declining pitcher who will be paid CC Sabathia money for his worst years.
    There are two situations that will define the Yankees for at least the next 5 years: the Santana non-trade, and the 2008 offseason acquisitions. This point hasn’t changed. But the results have, and it’s now really hard to see at this point these two things becoming a negative for the Yankees. But at some point in all of these situations they were deemed as utter failures.
    It’s embarrassing the amount of short-sightedness that exists in the media and in the fan base. You’d think people would learn by now that you can’t judge a trade one month in. Hell, sometimes you can’t even judge a trade one year in. Just because the Yankees have had great success in pretty much all of their transactions recently doesn’t mean these newest ones are guaranteed to work out. But damn – it’s WAY too early to judge anything.

    AndrewYF May 3, 2010, 5:11 pm
  • Further to your point Andrew, while I know that not everything Brian Cashman touches turns to gold (paging Carl Pavano), I think that since he gained sole control over decision-making and the Tampa crowd was brought undoubtedly under his unified authority, the organization has made what would SO FAR appear to be some solid moves and non-moves.
    Lots of talk after last season about how injuty-free the team was. While largely true — especially when one considers the age of some of tehir regulars — this ignores that they lost their starting RF from the get-go and that Cashman’s pick-up of Swisher made that a mere speed-bump on the way to the championship.
    Both the acquisitions and moves (Jeter to lead-off; Phil to pen last year and now in the 5 slot) have worked out well. But the tests will always keep coming – I don’t know anyone who really missed damon or Melky in April, but we’ll see now with the loss of Granderson for 2-4 weeks whether a rather meager OF of Swisher, Gardner, and Winn/Thames can hold the fort down in the field and at the plate.

    IronHorse (YF) May 3, 2010, 6:38 pm

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