Just when New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes was an afterthought in the rotation — with Ivan Nova coming back up with a strong start and Michael Pineda pitching very well in his rehab assignments — Hughes pitched a great game against the Texas Rangers today. Although he did not get the win because the Yankees couldn’t hit a beach ball with a tennis racket, Hughes reminded the team why he was a first-round pick back in 2004.
In his last two starts, he’s gone 10 and one-third innings, giving up nine runs against the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers, losing both decisions. Given the Yankees scored only two runs combined in those games, he still was not an effective pitcher, giving up early runs, immediately putting the Yankees soft-swinging offense in a hole.
Today, the Yankees’ bats did not come to the stadium, producing only two hits, both singles. But Hughes showed he still belongs in the rotation. He pitched eight strong innings, giving up two runs, five hits and one walk while striking out five. He still had trouble putting people away with two strikes, in fact, some of the hardest hit balls he let up were with two strikes, but he battled and ended up having a good outing against a good hitting Texas ball club.
This start certainly is encouraging for Hughes, who is a free-agent-to-be in the offseason. There was talk of him being trade bait for a right-handed hitter because of his pending free agency and the depth of pitching and lack of hitting the Yankees seem to have. But who knows, this start could have either cemented him back into the rotation, or strengthened his stock as a movable asset; only time will tell.