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25 chasing No. 28 - The 2011 New York Yankees roster: Phil Hughes

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Name: Phil Hughes, Starting Pitcher
DOB: 6/24/1986
Contract Status:  1st year of arbitration eligibility - signed a 1 year, $2.7 million contract on 1/18/2011
2010 stats: 18-8, 4.19 ERA, 2.4 WAR, 4.25 FIP
2010 in review:  Hughes met and exceeded most reasonable expectations in 2010.  Originally intended to be the Yankees 5th starter out of Spring Training, he became their de facto No. 2 for most of the second half after Andy Pettitte went down with an injury.  This may have taken a small toll, as the Yankees couldn't afford to give him the occasional day off that he probably needed, and he definitely slipped in the 2nd half and postseason, but this is par for the course with young pitchers. 

The Good:  Hughes proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that, even though he'd be great in the bullpen, he can cut it as a starter too.  He's got good command, an above-average strikeout rate, and showed signs of durability in 2010, completing the 7th inning in half of his first-half starts despite never going above 109 pitches in any of them.

The Bad:  At this point, there are only two real marks against Hughes.  One is the fact that he's a 25-year old pitcher and carries all of the risk and baggage associated with his age.  The other is the fact that he's a flyball pitcher playing half of his games in one of the more favorable home run parks in baseball.  The Yankees figure to have an above-average outfield defense in 2011, which will help him, but they can't catch it if it leaves the park.

2011 outlook: Hughes is an odd test case for the Verducci effect; his innings totals for the past five seasons are 146, 110.3, 69.2, 105.3, and 176.3.  He's struggled with some injuries, but none of them have been arm-related.  He's approaching the age where the inherent risk of injury drops, so the outlook for 2011 is fairly good.  Hughes will open the season as the Yankees de facto #2 starter, and if he can consistently pitch like he did in the first half of 2010, he should earn the title.