• Wild Thought: Phil Of The Future Best Served From The Pen?

    Posted by on June 9th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    Today’s wild thought is on Phil Hughes – who looked impressive pitching the seventh inning out of the Yankees bullpen last night.

    Part of the lament about Hughes as a starting pitcher has been around the fact that he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and a curve) and that his fastball is in the lower-90′s. And, while this is enough to fool minor league batters, this requires him to have pinpoint control/command, or face an impatient and aggressive swinging team, to excel as a starter in the majors. If Hughes had a quality third pitch – that he could throw for strikes – then that would make up for his shorter fastball and enable him to have more success in the majors as a starter. However, his cutter/slider and change-up are works in progress at this moment.

    This all said, it’s been proven that someone can pitch out of the bullpen, at the major league level, with just two-pitches – providing that one is exceptional and the other is enough to keep batters honest. And, as a relief pitcher, because you’re only facing a line-up once, at the max, in a game, you can get away with just having those two pitches.

    And, last night, being able to gas it out – as he was only going one inning, Phil Hughes’ fastball, which is usually in the 89-93 MPH range, was in the 94-96 MPH neighborhood – which is a near exceptional fastball. If Hughes is able to throw a heater in the mid-90′s and mix in his curve, he can be a very effective relief pitcher – like a John Wetteland type (who was also a fastball/curve failed starter who was converted to closer).

    In closing – that’s today’s wild thought: Should the Yankees, and Phil Hughes, now start thinking about his future in the majors…as a relief pitcher?

    Granted, starters get paid a lot more than relief pitchers. Hughes knows this, I’m sure. And, it’s somewhat easier on the mind, for some, to throw as a starter and then have four days off to play around with your Wii, etc., as opposed to having to deal with the stress of being in the game, in a big spot, two or three times a week (or more). But, then again, if you’re a closer, and you’re great, in a town like New York, you can be a legend. Just go ask Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage or Mo Rivera.

    What do you think? Based on what we saw last night – albeit just one game – should Phil of the Future be a member of the Yankees bullpen?

    Comments on Wild Thought: Phil Of The Future Best Served From The Pen?

    1. yagottagotomo1
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:16 pm

      No. It makes more sense than Joba, just bacause of the 4 pitches vs. 2 pitches that you note. However, Hughes’ cutter looks pretty solid as a third offering, and he has shown this year, in spurts, that he has the talent to be a top starter. If, when Mo retires, Hughes has still failed to establish himself, I would possibly reconsider. Maybe.

    2. MJ
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:23 pm

      He’s got a solid fastball, a good curveball and a developing cutter. He’s turning 23 in a few weeks. Before we banish him to the bullpen, let’s let him continue to progress as a starting pitcher, as he had been doing thus far in 2009.

      The disappointment of 2008 aside, anyone that wants to say that Hughes hasn’t made strides this year is simply not watching.

    3. GDH
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:35 pm

      As long as he’s ready to start games when Andy is done, if he helps the team from the bullpen, so much the better. It may build his confidence up a little if he succeeds in shorter segments. Until Bruney is back, he’s as strong as anyone out there for inning 8 or if Mo is not available, to close the game.

    4. YankCrank
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:49 pm

      No, no, no…please don’t start this talk. We’re going to be forever plagued with the idiotic talks of Joba being put in the pen (seriously, he’ll need to go 35-0 every year for the rest of his career to stop this crap), please let’s not spread any words of Hughes being in the pen as well.

      Crazy idea and that’s cool, but ideas like this spread like wild fire in our fan base…please no Hughes to the pen talks. Let’s all promise each other that this idea never leaves this discussion.

    5. MJ
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:50 pm

      Crazy idea and that’s cool, but ideas like this spread like wild fire in our fan base…please no Hughes to the pen talks. Let’s all promise each other that this idea never leaves this discussion.
      ———
      I promise. I’m with you 100%.

    6. bfriley76
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:52 pm

      yagottagotomo1 wrote:

      No. It makes more sense than Joba, just bacause of the 4 pitches vs. 2 pitches that you note. However, Hughes’ cutter looks pretty solid as a third offering, and he has shown this year, in spurts, that he has the talent to be a top starter. If, when Mo retires, Hughes has still failed to establish himself, I would possibly reconsider. Maybe.

      Exactly…makes more sense than the Joba argument, but I still think you have to let him prove without a doubt that he can’t be an effective starter before you move him to the bullpen. He’s far from that point.

    7. Corey
      June 9th, 2009 | 1:55 pm

      if hughes can show me he can pitch like last night on the regular every 5 days i’ll sign up for that. But, I think that he was givin it a little extra outta the pen, and if thats what it takes for him to pitch like that…maybe thats what’s needed.

    8. Pat F
      June 9th, 2009 | 2:12 pm

      if he shows he can’t be a starter, it’s a nice fallback option. but since he still has a great chance to be a starter, no way. need to build up his innings so he’s ready to take a rotation spot at 180 innings next year, which means 140-150 this year.

      totally agreed with all that i hope this debate doesn’t become as silly and widespread as joba. a lot of good starters can be relievers. but you have to give them the chance to start first. joba and phil have not gotten that full chance yet for any sort of extended period of time. the only reason this debate rages with the yankees is because joba and now phil have been used as relievers. that doesn’t make it any better. if lester worked out of relief, or cain, or garza, or whoever, they’d be effective as well. but since we haven’t seen it we don’t talk about it. just because we’ve seen it with these two isn’t a good enough reason to me to be talking about it.

    9. Tcarda4
      June 9th, 2009 | 2:50 pm

      I think hughes is an excellent temporary option for the bullpen and i think he should be used there as long as the rotation is healthy. Hughes is young and will eventually be a starter, but if his biggest value to this team is in the pen then why send him to the minors just to log his innings in hope that he helps them next year. Even Cone said last night that if he was needed to fill in as a starter for an injury it wouldnt be hard to stretch him back out to 80-100 pitches. If that is the case, they must keep him in the bullpen bc it seems he will be valuable there.

      Id love to see him on the mound tonight in the bottom of the 9th protecting a 2 run lead haha

    10. Moboy2
      June 9th, 2009 | 4:51 pm

      Joba should be in the Pen.Since he’s velocity is way down.Joba could hit 100 mph.People asre getting to crazy about Phil hitting 94-95 mph.

      Joba is nothing special yet as a starter.As a reliever he was unhittable.Lets see Hughes play bavk to back games before saying crazy things.

    11. yagottagotomo1
      June 9th, 2009 | 4:54 pm

      Moboy2 wrote:

      Joba should be in the Pen.Since he’s velocity is way down.Joba could hit 100 mph.People asre getting to crazy about Phil hitting 94-95 mph.

      Joba is nothing special yet as a starter.As a reliever he was unhittable.Lets see Hughes play bavk to back games before saying crazy things.

      Yeah, he has a huge sample as a reliever. He was going to sustain numbers as a reliever better than Mo, while he will never improve from his awful 3.19 ERA as a starter.

    12. June 10th, 2009 | 1:31 pm

      [...] less guarded with their praise and expectations. Steve Lombardi wondered if Hughes’ future rests in the bullpen, and NJ.com’s Colin Stephenson asks if Phil could be the next Joba Chamberlain. I don’t [...]

    13. June 10th, 2009 | 4:13 pm

      [...] in the MLB bullpen. However, there is one major difference between the two cases. As Steve at Was Watching states: Part of the lament about Hughes as a starting pitcher has been around the fact that he’s [...]

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