In the 5 – 1 win for the Bombers, Hughes brilliantly mixed his pitches in keeping the Detroit Tigers hitters off-balance. He struck out eight batters in his first career 9 inning complete game, and for the first time the Yankee hurler threw 123 pitches.
It was the type of performance the New York Yankees have been looking for from Hughes for quite some time, and it signified a resounding “YES” to the question of whether or not he belongs in the rotation.
An examination of the past six starts for each of the starters (Andy Pettitte’s numbers represent the four starts he has had this year) reveals that Hughes has had the third best ERA (behind CC Sabathia and Pettitte) and the second best WHIP (behind Pettitte).
New York Yankees starting rotation – last six starts
|Hiroki Kuroda||36 2/3||3.93||1.39|
|Ivan Nova||38 1/3||5.87||1.51|
|Andy Pettitte||28 1/3||3.49||1.13|
All season critics have called for moving Hughes to the New York Yankees bullpen, and their voices became the loudest after his “dud” against the Los Angeles Angels in which he yielded 7 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Looking at the statistics since the beginning of May, it is hard to understand why.
With this gem against Detroit’s heralded lineup, those critics have seemingly disappeared – at least for now. Until they reemerge from the weeds, the 25 year-old can savor this game and hope to continue his upward climb. He out-pitched one of baseball’s best pitchers in Justin Verlander, but as Phil Hughes is keenly aware of, success in New York is sometimes defined by your last start.
The New York Yankees hurler knows the critics will one day be back to again call for his head, but until that time he can enjoy the fact that on this day he silenced them.