Another strong Phil Hughes start turned into just an OK one last night thanks to a couple of misplaced pitches. This has been a constant theme for Hughes all year long and now the impact of that theme is felt even more in the heat of a division race, especially when the offense is still lost at sea without Swish and Gardner and seemingly unable to get a hit or two with RISP.
On the negative side, Hughes was given 2 leads and couldn't hold either of them. He could have helped the Yankees gain a little more breathing room over Tampa and chop 2 more games of the divisional magic number and instead the Yanks wake up today looking back up at the Rays in the standings. He has given up a lot of home runs this year in key situations and is still probably in limbo as far as his postseason role goes.
On the positive side, Hughes pitched exceptionally well for the rest of the game last night, hitting his spots with his fastball and mixing his pitches up far better than he had been recently. And if you eliminate a handful of the home runs he's given up this year, Hughes could be looking at 18 or 19 wins right now. Location and pitch selection issues aside, Hughes has pitched incredibly well this year in his first year as a full-time starter. Improving pitch selection and location is something that comes with experience, so imagine how awesome he's going to be once he masters that over the next year or 2.
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