Phil Hughes is off to a great start at Triple-A this season with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees in the International League. To date, he’s made three starts, throwing 19.3 innings, allowing 17 hits and 3 walks, whiffing 19, going 3-0 with an ERA of 1.86. What’s not to like about that?
Well, actually, I think there’s something even more to like in what Hughes has done so far in AAA. And, to see that, you have to look inside these numbers:
Start P-Stk IP P/IP 1st Start 96-63 6.0 16.0 2nd Start 96-64 5.6 16.9 3rd Start 105-75 7.3 14.4
The numbers above are Phil Hughes’ first three starts this season in terms of Pitches Thrown and Thrown For Strikes (P-Stk), Innings Pitched (IP) and Pitches Per Inning (P/IP).
These numbers tell us that Hughes has been able to pitch into the 6th or 7th innings of his games, so far this season, and he’s doing it with an overall average of 15.6 pitches thrown per inning.
Now, if you have a pitcher at the big league level who can reach the 7th inning of a game and who averages about 16-17 innings pitched per inning, he’s someone who is going to help your team.
Of course, the question here is: Can Phil Hughes average 16 P/IP for 6-7 IP per start against big league batters like he does against Triple-A batters? After all, there’s a big difference between Triple-A and the major leagues. Just go and ask Shelley Duncan and Kei Igawa, if you don’t believe me.
I’m hoping that, should the Yankees have a need for a starting pitcher this season, Phil Hughes gets a shot to show us what these minor league numbers really mean for him. It should be interesting to see how it works out.