Skip to content

Phil Hughes' near no-no vindicates Girardi

Apr 22, 2010, 8:12 AM EDT

Phil Hughes near no-no.jpgI’ll admit it: I was Team Joba as far as the Yankees’ fifth starter race went this spring. I thought that he had a better repertoire of pitches and a better chance to be a dominant starter than did Phil Hughes. He may one day be that kind of guy — and one game, or even one season is not definitive of anything — but last night’s performance showed that Phil Hughes belongs in the rotation of the defending world champs.

As I mentioned earlier this morning, Hughes took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. And this was not a matter of effective wildness or the A’s simply flailing. I watched most of the game, and it was manifest that he had excellent command last night. He was able to put his fastball wherever he wanted it, and the cutter was even more impressive. His velocity was impressive as well, as he maintained a 94 m.p.h. fastball much later in the game than he has in previous starts.

Losing the no-no the way he did — on a comebacker that he couldn’t find in time to throw Eric Chavez out — was rather deflating, but no one is going to hold that against him.

And no one is going to question the decision to put Hughes in the rotation any time soon.

  1. Joey B - Apr 22, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    It was never in doubt. You should pull up the old thread to see how many people were in favor of Joba. As a RS fan, I was really hoping to see Joba in the rotation. A starter needs kind of a vision of how 7 innings will play out. Hughes strikes me as fairly bright. Joba is more like a character out of the X Files.
    Having said that, he’d still make fine trade bait. He can’t be the NYY closer, since Mo is apparently a cyborg, and he won’t be a starter unless the NYY drop him into AAA and develop him for use in 2011. But he could literally be a top-10, maybe even a top-5 closer as soon as tomorrow, if needed.

  2. Professor Longnose - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Does “soon” include August, when he hits his innings limit?

  3. YankeesfanLen - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    Envisioned this all winter. 2009 late season showed his return to form that so many hopes were attached to previously.
    The Toad can be brought in to humor everyone for a while at the end. Phil shows composure and concentration, and a good-to-great arm.
    BTW, Joey, he’s not (and as far as I can tell) trade bait now or any time in the past. Who does the Universe NED at this point other than what we have. Now Montero is safe, thank God.

  4. BC - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Joba is clearly at his best when he’s amped up and can throw the bleep out of the ball, i.e., in the bullpen. And the Yanks will need a closer to replace Mo at some point. Makes perfect sense. Joba will be 10 times better (and richer) as a closer than as a starter.

  5. Baseball Fan - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Yankees are on a roll. Does anyone think the Yankees can win out the rest of the season and go 159W / 3L. Just kidding of course. But right now they look almost unbeatable. Hughes is making the decision by Cashman & Girardi to make him the 5th starter look like a no brainer. The Yankees are looking good! B. Gardner is playing great ball too. He’s making it hard for Girardi to platoon him in the future. Next Year the Yankees could be looking at an outfield of Gardner, Granderson & Werth or Gardner, Granderson & Crawford. How awesome would that be. Add Cliff Lee to the staff next year and the other teams are toast, burnt toast.

  6. John F - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    I never wanted Joba in the rotation in the first place. I agree with Joey B above about the relative brightness of the candidates. Joba is a neanderthal. He kept making the same mistakes over and over again and then prattling on to the press about how well he threw after giving up six in four innings. He never really got it. Hughes was absolutely dominant in the minors and was a killer setup man last year. It’s early, but I never doubted he was the better of the two hurlers…he throws strikes for one thing…and would make the better starter. Chamberlain almost blew his gem last night. He can’t get his breaking pitches over consistently and generally pitches worse with men on base. There was a huge need in the rotation prior to the signings of Sabathia and Burnett so I reluctantly went along with the plan (not that I had a choice of course), but I had misgivings the entire time. After his putrid effort last year he should have been told you are our setup guy before Spring Training. I don’t want to deal Chamberlain just yet, but I’ll be very happy when Mark Melancon is an established major leaguer so he can be banished to mop up duty, if necessary, until he is more consistent. Let’s face it, both of these kids are not yet 25 years of age so there’s a lot of growing to do. They had to learn at the major league level because NY hasn’t done a good job of farming out starting pitching, but still…everything is right with the world and those of us who dared to disagree with combustible Hank are not “idiots” after all…

  7. John F - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    I never wanted Joba in the rotation in the first place. I agree with Joey B above about the relative brightness of the candidates. Joba is a neanderthal. He kept making the same mistakes over and over again and then prattling on to the press about how well he threw after giving up six in four innings. He never really got it. Hughes was absolutely dominant in the minors and was a killer setup man last year. It’s early, but I never doubted he was the better of the two hurlers…he throws strikes for one thing…and would make the better starter. Chamberlain almost blew his gem last night. He can’t get his breaking pitches over consistently and generally pitches worse with men on base. There was a huge need in the rotation prior to the signings of Sabathia and Burnett so I reluctantly went along with the plan (not that I had a choice of course), but I had misgivings the entire time. After his putrid effort last year he should have been told you are our setup guy before Spring Training. I don’t want to deal Chamberlain just yet, but I’ll be very happy when Mark Melancon is an established major leaguer so he can be banished to mop up duty, if necessary, until he is more consistent. Let’s face it, both of these kids are not yet 25 years of age so there’s a lot of growing to do. They had to learn at the major league level because NY hasn’t done a good job of farming out starting pitching, but still…everything is right with the world and those of us who dared to disagree with combustible Hank are not “idiots” after all…

  8. RobRob - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Didn’t Hughes do this against the Rangers a few years ago? I bring this up because if anyone is an example of how isolated, flukey, and non-predictive of near-term future success a near no-hitter is, it’s Phil Hughes.

  9. Joey B - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    “BTW, Joey, he’s not (and as far as I can tell) trade bait now or any time in the past. Who does the Universe NED at this point other than what we have. Now Montero is safe, thank God.”
    No, you don’t need anyone. It’s just a matter of maiximizing Joba’s value. For you, his value is as a setup guy. For someone else, his value is as a closer. So he has more value to someone else than he does to you.
    OTOH, I just checked out the NYY BP and it doesn’t appear that they have much by way of setup guys, depending on whether or not you think Girardi toasted Aceves last year.

  10. Joey B - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    I’d also give some thought to demoting Joba if they think he can still be a starter. Teach how to pitch rather than throw. Restart his innings count so you can dump the crazy Joba Rules. It’s not inconceivable that you can get back into some good habits and still be able to use him later in the season.

  11. Evan - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Craig, I’m glad you admitted it. The “show” is all about results. Despite Joba’s history as a starter (of which you previously informed me) he simply didn’t have the kind of results at the Major League level to justify having him in our rotation.
    .
    Could he be a starter elsewhere? Probably. Could he be an ace someday? Maybe. However, I could never wrap my head around the decision to move Joba from the bullpen to a starting slot. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Joba was nothing short of DOMINANT as a relief pitcher. I think he will be an excellent replacement for Mo someday. As a setup man for Rivera, it reminded me of the Rivera/Wetteland combination back in the day.

  12. YankeesfanLen - Apr 22, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    I’ve always thought of Aceves as long relief (to eat up innings when AJ falters or something) Set up before Joba will probably be Robertson. And as Evan said, Toad/Mo is the new Rivera/Wetteland.
    To do a mild Yogi-ism, there’s no reason to trade ANYONE until there’s a REASON to trade anyone.
    I’ll stand pat.

  13. DB - Apr 22, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Am a Yankees fan, and cannot stand Joba, nor can many of my longtime Yankees fan friends. Joey B’s right: he’s a thrower. He has a 2 inning mindset.
    If Girardi had any nuts at all, he’d lay it out right now: Joba, you’re the heir to Mo (Joey, I respectfully disagree that Mo’s a cyborg :-) and if you don’t like it, tough, we’ll have no problem banishing you to Pittsburgh or KC (no disrespect to either of the aforementioned fan bases).
    Joba is clearly a closer (and a keyed up douche). Right move putting Hughes in the rotation. Joba will have a very successful career as a closer.
    One final note to my fellow pinstripe fans: can everyone please stop fawning over Joba? He’s not the second damn coming of Walter Johnson or Christy Matthewson for cryin’ out loud.

  14. Church of the Perpertually Outraged - Apr 22, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Let’s face it, both of these kids are not yet 25 years of age so there’s a lot of growing to do

    This is the only comment of yours that made sense considering how similar their numbers were as a SP in the majors prior to this year. You really should check out baseball-reference.com and see the numbers for yourself. Apparently me posting them over and over isn’t working.

  15. FemaleYankFan - Apr 22, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    I think Yankee’s Joba rule has backfired. They should have allowed Joba to pitch and get experienced with the hitters instead of limiting his pitch count. The only way you know how a person will succeed is by their reaction in the middle of the fire.
    Let me say that I was disappointed by Joba not getting the starting job, but I did not doubt Girardi’s decision with Hughes. He was a beast last night, and his bid for a no-hitter kept me on the edge of my seat.
    I agree that Joba is best remaining in the bullpen and as a possible replacement for Mo. Mo will remain a closer until he’s ready to retire, or the “Big Guys” think he’s washed up.
    My one fault against the Yankees is still Matsui. They didn’t have to give him a big contract, but they should have given him a place on the roster. Matsui’s continuing his clutch hitting with the Angels. It bits to see him in that “red” uniform.

  16. Frisco Yankee - Apr 22, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I attended the game at the Rangers a couple of years ago when Hughes took a no-hitter into the 7th only to strain a hamstring and be forced to leave. I watched the entire game last night, and I finally am seeing that same Phil Hughes. He is the best choice as a starter, and I can see him a couple years down the road being the # 2 behind CC. (Burnett is always 2 bad pitches away from a mental flame-out.) Joba to the bullpen is the best choice as well. He owns the 8th inning and can get trained up to replace Mo at the end of his 3-year renewal which will be signed over the winter. And in closing, I LOVE Gardner. His talents are a big plus to the collection of mashers they already have. Time will tell that Cashman is far superior to the young “wizard” in Boston.

  17. MikeM - Apr 22, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Pretty strange post, he pulled a hamstring, got hurt and so did not pitcht. Since then, he has been lights out as a reliever last year and 2-0 as a starter this year.

  18. APBA Guy - Apr 22, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Guys, before you get too excited about Hughes being the second coming, remember he was pitching against the A’s, maybe the second worst offense in the league. As a 5th starter he looks good, but too many of his pitches were up last night, and while the A’s don’t have the bat speed to handle those, or the plate discipline to lay off, other teams do.
    However, his mound poise is so obviously better than Joba that it seems absolutely the right decision was made to have Hughes as the 5th starter and Joba in the bullpen.

  19. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 22, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    He’s done well since converted to a reliever last year, but his overall stats reflect very similarly to a pitcher people want in the BP full time.
    For the 19295258 time, stats as a SP only:
    Joba – .266/.351/.407 – 221.2IP – 9.22 H/9 – 4.1 BB/9 – 8.36 K/9, 2.04 K/BB
    Phil – .254/.334/.419 – 153.2IP – 8.67 H/9 – 3.9 BB/9 – 7.50 K/9, 1.94 K/BB
    And those stats are to current for Hughes which include his latest gem. If I didn’t, they’d be worse and match up almost exactly to Joba.

  20. RobRob - Apr 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Pretty strange post, he pulled a hamstring, got hurt and so did not pitcht. Since then, he has been lights out as a reliever last year and 2-0 as a starter this year.

    That’s not exactly how it happened. He had that game against Texas early in 2007, hurt himself and missed some time. Over the course of the next two seasons, he’s been an average pitcher when in the rotation. Yeah, he missed some time because of a hamstring pull, but his only extended stretch of success has been out of the bullpen.

    Neither one of those two guys (Joba nor Hughes) has demonstrated consistent success as a starter over their careers, and it’s not just because of an injury here or there.

    My point is simply that while a single-game performance like last night’s is a nice achievement for him, it’s still just one game.

  21. Wells - Apr 22, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Last night’s performance was ONE game. C’mon Craig. Brandon Morrow no-hit the Yankees through 8 one time. It can happen, and should be taken as indicative of some new plateau of skill for Mr. Hughes.

  22. topcatNYNY - Apr 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Who cares who’s better between Joba and Phil…… The Yankees are just plain scary this year. Shades of 1998, this is going to be a very fun year to watch them!

  23. topcatNYNY - Apr 22, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    Who cares who’s better between Joba and Phil. The Yankees are just plain scary this year. Shades of 1998, this is going to be a fun year to watch them!!!

  24. talex - Apr 22, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Hughes has all the elements it takes to be a very good/to great major league pitcher. His near no hitter is simply a verification that what people trump about him is actually true. All through his brief career he has shown glimpses of going deep into games as a starter and he doesn’t have to pace himself like Joba, because he can throw 3 pitches for strikes. He reminds me of a right-handed Jon Lester. The scary thing is all he needs to be is a number 5 starter for the Yankees this year. As far as Chamberlain goes; I think he is constantly holding back from throwing all out. He just has never looked the same since he tweaked his shoulder a year and a half ago. I still like him as the Yankee setup guy. And Rivera, Robertson, Aceves, Park, Chamberlain, and Marte is a nice bullpen. If Melancon gets up to the show and produces: yikes!

  25. Wendall - Apr 26, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    I think you’re giving Joba too much credit . I’m a life long Yankee fan , and I was hoping he would be traded in the off season . I feel he’s is overrated , and I really don’t see a place for him . I say trade him before the other GM’s see that he’s not going to live up to his billing . He’s lost 5 to 6 mph off his fast ball . That isn’t a good sign for a supposed closer . He doesn’t have the endurance to be a starter . I say trade him while you can get someone good for him .

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Why is Wren out and Gonzalez is not?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (2584)
  2. J. Hamilton (2036)
  3. J. Heyward (1983)
  4. M. Trout (1944)
  5. D. Ortiz (1890)
  1. J. Ellsbury (1841)
  2. S. Pearce (1828)
  3. D. Jeter (1823)
  4. C. Kershaw (1813)
  5. A. Pagan (1753)