Call me a knee-jerk reactionary, I don't care, Phil Hughes is lost out there. Last night was his third straight start without reaching five innings while allowing at least five runs. It's been so bad that his ERA actually went down to 13.94.
He needs to be demoted in place of Bartolo Colon. I never thought I'd write those words back when Colon was signed, but Hughes has been that difficult to watch.
How bad has he been exactly? In Yankee history, which spans more than 15,000 games, all of 12 starters have pitched three consecutive games of less than five innings with at least 5 earned runs allowed. Hughes became no. 13 last night.
He looked like he might have found some of his lost velocity in the first inning when he was consistently 90-91 MPH with his fastball, but it quickly tailed off -
His average fastball velocity ended right where it had been before before the game: 89.05 MPH.
If all he has to do is "build arm strength," then let him do it in the minors. Hughes still has options. The Yankees are trying to secure a playoff spot. Bartolo Colon, right now, gives them a better chance to do that. Let's compare their stats -
Phil: 10.1 ip, 19 h, 16 er, 4 bb, 3 k (3 HR, 13.94 ERA, 2.33 WHIP)
Bart: 11.1 ip, 11 h, 5 er, 3 bb, 13 k (1 HR, 3.97 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
In addition to the 2011 season, this move is also better in the long run. In Triple-A, Hughes will get to pitch under less pressure, less stress, and be able to "refine" his game in ways that aren't possible for a "win-now" team like the Bronx Bombers. And maybe this whole "lost velocity" thing will help Hughes down the road because he'll be forced to locate his pitches better... and when/if the velocity returns, that improved command will make him that much better.
When Hughes' numbers and scouting reports return to semi-normal, then he should be reconsidered for a rotation spot, but he should be given at least a month in Scranton.