June 24 – Happy Birthday Phil Hughes
Yankee fans are not known for their patience, especially with pitchers. We want strikes thrown, we want to hold leads and we want consistent performances game-to-game, season-to-season and especially in the postseason. Anything less than that and Yankee pitchers begin to see and hear Yankee fans express their dissatisfaction.
The team’s fans grow even more impatient when management touts young pitching prospects as ready-for-prime-time starting pitchers. That’s what happened to Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and initially, to today’s birthday boy, Phil Hughes. Today, Kennedy is no longer a Yankee and Joba, who’s arm injury has sidelined him until next season, continues to confound Yankee fans with his inconsistency. Up until this year began, only Mr. Hughes seemed to be fulfilling the lofty expectations of New York’s management and pinstripe fans. Was that too just a mirage?
He originally showed us something in 2007, especially in the playoffs against Cleveland. He earned another reprieve after a very shaky start in 2008 and a rib injury that sidelined him for much of the year. Then in 2009, Hughes stepped up big when he was sent to the bullpen to become Mariano Rivera’s setup man. After a highly publicized spring training competition with Chamberlain for the 2010 fifth starter position, Hughes pitched as well as any starter in either league during the first half of 2010 season and made the All Star team. But even though he finished last year with an 18-8 record, he became a very ordinary pitcher in the second half and was once again ineffective in fall ball.
After failing to sign Cliff Lee and losing Andy Pettitte during the off season, the Yankees urgently needed Hughes to reproduce his great start of a year ago. Instead, he has been horrible. His confidence seemed to decrease in direct proportion to the lower and lower digital number readings on the radar gun aimed at Hughes’ fastballs. Finally, management put him on the DL and told us he had a dead arm. The good thing is that Hughes has been in this situation a couple of times already in his short career and has always been able to bounce back impressively. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
By the way, Ian Kennedy is currently 8-2 for Arizona this season and has a 2.90 ERA.
Hughes shares his June 24th birthday with this former Yankee All Star catcher.