Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clock Is Ticking On Phil Hughes

The Associated Press
There's really no way to say this except to be brutally honest: if Phil Hughes does not find a way to win games, he's going to find himself working out of the bullpen.

I could be way off about that, but it's what I believe to be true. Hughes laid another goose egg yesterday afternoon to the Orioles, helping the Yankees to a 5-3 loss. He gave up 3 home runs, 2 walks and 9 hits pitching in only 3 innings. In his two combined starts this sesson, Hughes has allowed 17 hits and 8 earned runs in a measly 7 innings.

Granted, Hughes is coming off of a back injury that had him sidelined during Spring Training. And he did pitch earlier than expected following the Yankees' horrific 1-3 start, so perhaps he simply needs more time to get his pitching groove back. But the Yankees may not be willing to show much more patience for Phil when they are relying on pitching to win games, and when they have David Phelps waiting in the wings.

Phelps was originally slated for last Saturday's start against Detroit which was eventually given to Hughes. Today, Phelps came in in relief and pitched brilliantly, allowing only one hit and striking out 6 in 4 innings. This was the kind of pitching performance that helped him earn in a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training. This will be the kind of pitching performance that will earn him a spot back on to the rotation in replacement of Hughes.

There is another variable to this situation, however. Ivan Nova was horrible in his first outing against Detroit and the Yankees appear to have a short leash on him also. If he bombs out in his second start, whenever that is, Phelps could replace him giving Hughes a reprieve. But if Nova bounces back with a solid win, the pressure will be on Hughes to make a decent game of it in his next outing.

And the Yankees offense wasn't great today, as the bats were cooled by Orioles pitcher, Jason Hammel. Only Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Francisco Cervelli were able to get hits, with Hafner and Wells both hitting solo home runs.

Hiroki Kuroda will get the start in Sunday night's game against LHP Wei-Yin Chen. Game time is 8:05 pm.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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