Hughes looks sharp as Yankees beat Rays 5-2

Phil Hughes did what he had to do. He went 5 innings, he made it to his pitch count, his velocity was good and he had command of his pitches in a Yankees 5-2 victory over the Rays.

Hughes’s only mistake was a hanging breaking ball for Matt Joyce which resulted in a 2 run homer. Other than that, Hughes was sharp and has proven that he is a contender for one of the spots in the rotation. Clay Rapada went an inning without giving up a run on 2 K’s, Cesar Cabral (1-0) had an impressive afternoon with 2 innings and 6 K’s & Mike O’Connor had 1 strikeout in one inning pitched without giving up a run.

THE GOOD: Justin Maxwell continues to hit the ball hard, going 1 for 2 with an RBI, Mark Teixeira was on base 2 out of 3 times & Robinson Cano was 1 for 3, Alex Rodriguez was 1 for 2 with a walk & Cole Garner was 1 for 3 with 2 runs scored.

THE BAD: There wasn’t really anything bad about today. Yankees just had a bit of trouble scoring late.

WHAT’S NEXT: Brett Gardner & Curtis Granderson are slated to make the trip to Ft. Meyers to face the Boston Red Sox in a Spring Training rematch. The game will be on ESPN & also on YES Network (choose YES Network if you can). David Phelps will get the start while CC Sabathia pitches in a minor league game.

About Delia E.

Delia Enriquez is the managing editor of Yankees Fans Unite. She enjoys analyzing the New York Yankees whether it be their pitching, roster or their manager. You can follow her on twitter @dfiregirl4 for more tweets, analysis and opinion on the Yankees.

Posted on March 21, 2012, in Game Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 61 Comments.

  1. Delia, I believe Cabral only went 2 innings not 3.
    -Hughes: 5
    -Rapada: 1
    -Cabral: 2
    -O’Connor: 1

  2. Agreed 6Ks in 2 innings for Cabral is good. However, you should mention that he also gave up 2H, 1 BB, 1 WP and a balk.

  3. FYI my brother is at the Allman Brothers concert in NY and he just texted me Bernie Williams came out is playing with them. Now that’s cool.

  4. Hughes looked good again today and I’m starting to be a believer.The reason is the CU.He threw a nasty one to strikeout Luke Scott.It was filthy.He said after the game its the 1st time his CU has ever felt right.This is the answer to Hughes takeing the next step.
    If Phil masters the change it will complement his FB.His 3rd pitch could be his CB or the cutter,it won’t matter.Pundents are to focused on velocity with all the pitchers,its too early in spring to get worked up unless a pitchers arm has problems.
    Without the CU ,Phil is not a starter he belongs in the pen.

    When Andy comes back,
    CC-KURODA-ANDY and the 2 guys that are pitching the best.Also health could play a major role in determining the Yankees options.
    With the emergence of Phelps and D.J.Mitchell, Freddy will be traded 1st.
    Yanks will have some tough decisions as they have the best Starting pitching depth in the game.

    • Hughes at the backend?

      • I would have Hughes 5th as well. But remember, rotation order only matters in the postseason.

        • Greedy Pinstripes, while I agree in principal rotation order may not matter. I do think it has some bearing on a teams performance and the managers decision of who pitchers where in the order. Since many times during the season a teams starters tend to line up with the opposing teams starters. By that I mean #1’s, #2’s, etc… tend to match up many times during the season.

          • I also think it’s good to have pitchers that go deep in the game CC and Kuroda have a younger guy in between them. This will give the bullpen some rest then.

          • Here’s a good exercise, look at the starting pitchers for each game in the majors. Circle the winners for that day, out of the 15 games played it is hard to pick 50% of the winners. Pitching match ups are overrated. The show Clubhouse Confidenial on the Mlb Network suggests that someone should try throwing 3 relievers in a game instead of a 5 starter. This has been working in high school and college for years.

            • interesting concept would love to hear fishjams thoughts on that one about throwing 3 relievers every 5th day.

              • Interesting idea but it would just put too much stress on your bullpen. That’s why a lot of team’s have back-end starters that are just glorified innings-eaters.

                it’s a good idea to use your pen over a lousy 5th starter in the post-season but expecting to get 9ip out of your bullpen every 5th day over a 162-game season would be crippling.

                • The quality and youth of the Yankee pitching is perfect for this system. The Yanks actually used 29 pitchers last year. The strength of the young pitchers like Phelps, Warren, Baneulos, Betances, Rapada, Kontos, Mitchell, Cabrel, Marshall, and Whitley, could be rotated from AAA to the majors. Add Joba, Logan, Robertson, Soriano, and Mo you have more than enough pitchers for 162 games. The bonus is you get to see which young pitchers will be successful. The only drawback is these pitchers would run out of options quicker.

            • If you recall I think the Yankees threw as starters 6 or 7 relieves into a couple of games last years. If my memory is correct 1 time it worked and 1 time it didn’t.

            • Check out the 2 games last year against the Rays Sept. 21st and Sept. 26th

            • The reason you will have a low percentage is that starters only get a decision on about 60-65% of their games.I alway wondered would it be better to start a middle relief pitcher for 2 innings, another middle relief pitcher for 2 innings and then put your starter in the game. I know it is unconventional but starters don’t finish games anymore, so why not have your best pitcher in the game at the end. I also think the closer should pitch any time the game is on the line after the 6th inning, or agains’t the better hitters even if it’s not the last innings. Sounds logical, but it will never happen, because it is agains’t tradition.

              • I agree that closers should not be pigeon-holed into certain innings, as Girardi loves to do. It shouldn’t be “closer”, “set-up man”, “7th inning reliever”, etc. It should be “#1 reliever”, #2 reliever”, and so on. Use them based on the importance of the situation.

                But I don’t agree with not using a “starter” to start the game. If you go with one or two relievers to begin the game, then there’s a better chance your team will be behind by the 5th innings. Getting an early lead means a lot to the psyche of players and pitchers. Nobody wants to try and come from behind.

                • Teams get behind with their starters also.

                • GP…
                  Is it all right to shorten your handle…it takes me an hour to type five lines?
                  Starters are starters and called as such because, that is what they do best.
                  Anyhow, being a pitcher yourself, you understand the way pitchers think! They don’t like change and are creachers of habit. See…CC, when they went to 6 starters.
                  As a starter I don’t know if you ever had to go through the BP mystique. There is a pecking order in the BP as you have as starters; it goes from Closer on down to the (specialists) lefties etc.
                  I would change things to be as you said; in fact, I did when I was player manager. There is a problem with that system, it must start in the minors or have everyone on board with it.

                  • old yankee, I just was throwing it out there, I don’t really think it will happen. Baseball is a game of tradition and thats one thing I like about it. Baseball is slow to change. La Russa was the type of manager who was always looking for a better way, I think someone will change the way pitchers are used in the future. Look at the difference in the relief today compared to the 50s-60s.

                  • LOL. I have no issue with shortening my name. The Greedy Pinstripes is a blog a friend and I have, and I’m using it’s Twitter for this.

                    I didn’t even think about the “creatures of habit” thing, but it’s a great point.

      • If Hughes has a good last 2 outings of ST don’t be surprised if he’s listed as the #4 starter for the start of the season.

  6. Excuse me uyf1950. I want to say something and didnt know how to put up a post with having to respond to a post….

    Two days ago I called MLB to sign up for one the MLB 2012 packages. I found that MLB had shipped these sales jobs out of the country. It took almost a half hour of my time and 3 phone calls and I did not buy a package because the out of the country sales people did NOT understand the product they were selling and could not answer most of my questions…… Whats up MLB?

  7. Warren looked good tonight, pitched well agains’t the Sox starters. I would keep both Warren and Phelps in the pen this year. They have earned it. Wade did not look good again tonight.

    • do you think the Yankees will really do that though. Wouldn’t they rather keep them stretched out in AAA.

      • helps for two reasons. injury and of course to keep there trade value up.

        • Matt, I think both pitchers (Warren and Phelps) have helped their trade value already just by the way they have looked so far this spring.

          Is it just be or does Betances continue to have control issues?

          • Betances really has alot of upside, but he has some of AJ in him. He seems control problems and concentration problems. Major league pitchers don’t have location problems, more or less control problems. He does have good stuff.

        • Sorry should be “…is it just me…” NOT “be”.

      • Matt, you can go either way, the Yanks aren’t going to need Warren or Phelps as starters this year, so why not break them in a relievers. They are both better pitchers than Wade. The Yanks did that with Nova, Hughes, and Noesi. The Rays did it with Price.

        • Good morning Doug, If it’s best for the team obvi it’s what needs to be done. Just thinking of long term and trade value I would think keeping them pitching in AAA as starters is what they Yankees will probably want to do.

          • Matt ,i AGREE ,Warren and Phelps should continue to work as starters,as both are ticketed to be big league guys who can pitch on alot of the guy I see as a Tyler Clippard type and would like to see him in the pen.
            Betances is another story.I agree with the concensus of most scouts that he is a bullpen arm.He does not have a feel for pitching his delivery is gangly not smooth,his arm action looks stiff and not fluid at follow through.He doesn’t repeat his delivery which is the reason for his wildness.Also at the end of the day his stuff isn’t that good.Betances gets his recognition because of his 6′ 8″ frame but at 25 who cares ,he’s overated and the Yanks have 4 guys in the AAA rotation better than him .
            Remember Brackman

    • wade, doesn’t/hasn’t looked good. It would not surprise me if the Yankees take 1 of them north with them when they head north. My guess is it would be Warren.

    • I don’t understand why you’d want to put them into the bullpen, which would limit their use greatly. Rivera, Robertson, and Soriano are getting the vast majority of innings. Then there will be Logan, and Joba will be back by midseason.

      • Greedy…..I agree with you. I’d like to keep Phelps and Warren stretched out getting their regular innings every 5 days in AAA than sitting in the pen throwing very little. If I were to keep 1 rookie in the pen, it would be DJ Mitchell. He’s ooked very good also and I think he may eventually be a RP in the bigs anyway.

        But I think Cory Wade should keep his job. He got his offspeed pitches up today but he’s looked OK this ST and was very effective last season going 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA. He deserves his spot.

        • Fish its funny how for some players spring training #’s don’t matter but on others they do??????

          • ballpark, you hit the nail right on the head. I played in the minors, and we used to say their are two types of players, those who have to prove that they are good enough, and those who have to prove that they aren’t good enough. Money and options are a big factor, sometimes people will say the worst time to evaluate players is in the spring or Sept. GMs and managers all have different ideas on how to weight who makes the team. I wouldn’t put too much stock in what a manager is saying right now. They are just trying to be politically correct. To their credit, it’s a tough call picking a team. Most managers really feel bad when they have to send someone down who is playing well. There is some luck involved, you have to be at the right place at the right time.

            • Good points Doug. Another huge factor in who makes the team are contracts. Some players have guaranteed contracts and some don’t have minor-lg options so they woud be lost for good if not kept.

              Cesar Cabral is one example. If they don’t keep him, he would have to clear waivers and Cashman says there is no way in hell he would clear so I expect the Yanks to keep him as the 12th man on the staff.

              By the way, who did you play for in the minors?

              • fishjam, I agree, Cabral has pitched well enough to stick because he is out of options.

                I pitched for the Cubs, finished in AA, traded to the Phils and tore my rotor cuff throwing a slider to one of my Cubs friends taking batting practice in Feb. in Arizona. In those days their were no operations to fix it.

          • Good point Ballpark. I listen to announcers say it doesn’t matter that Ibanez is 2 for 37 and more importantly getting blown away by 89 MPH Fastballs. Plus he sucked last yr.

            But guys like Nova and Wade, who’s stuff looks the same as last yr when they went a combined 22-5 for this team are now in trouble because of a couple of rough spring outings.

            • Going by spring stats, either way, is stupid.

              After becoming a certified basketball official I realized that announcers are clueless. They get simple things so wrong. And I’m sure that crosses into all sports.

              These guys are about ratings and website hits. Whatever works is what they’ll write. Pay no attention.

      • The Yanks used 29 pitchers last year, they will get some time in the pen this year, the question is when? I thinks a pen of Rivera,Robertson, Soriano, Logan, Phelps, Warren, and Joba mid season is the best option for the team right now. It’s also helps you for next year when you will need all these pitchers to move up a notch when Mo retires. You will have a better idea of who can pitch in the majors. Next year their will be only 1 starter opening if that, so I wouldn’t have all these guys starting. Either Warren or Phelps could be the long man. I think this will happen at mid season anyway.

        • I have no problem with them in the pen. Just not to start off the season. So mid season is fine with me.

        • Yanks used 28 pitchers last yr but 14 of them threw less than 14 innings. They didn’t have the depth they have now so when pitchers went down they shuffled through a lot of journeymen to try to find someone who could help. They won’t need to do that with the depth they have this yr.

          Phelps & Warren may be needed in the pen at some point this yr but why put them as the last man in the pen to start the season when they coud get regular innings and continue to improve? The pen already has 6 definite established pitchers in Mo, DRob, Soriano, Logan, Wade & Garcia. There is one opening and chances are very high Girardi will take one of the lefties, Cabral or Rapada. If not I’d go with Mitchell.

          Phelps & Warren made great impressions this ST and their time will come soon whether as starters or relievers.

          • no one seems to mention Aardsma in these comments. IF all goes well with his Rehab he could be back in July. That will be a huge weapon to have.

            • You’re right Matt.
              Although for me, I’m not counting on Joba or Aardsma at this point. If they come up and contribute, it wil be a bonus.
              From what I’ve seen of Tommy John surgery, it usually takes 14-18 months to get back to 100%. They both may be ready to pitch in June and surprise me which would give the team even more depth…..2 more battle-tested power arms.

              • wouldn’t recovery from TJ be different from stater to RP?

                • IYou’re right Matt. Although in some ways RPs put more stress on their arms. They obviously don’t need to be able to throw 100 pitches but the stress on RP’s is in pitching multiple days in a row effectively. Also, RP’s exert max effort on every single pitch while starters tend to pace themselves. Hopefully by the 2nd half, 1 or both of them will be 100%.

          • fishjam, I agree in some ways and disagree in others. The Yanks pitching is stronger this year so they won’t have to use journeymen like Wade so much. The East is the toughest division again this year, I’ve read writers saying it’s the toughest division in the hitsory of baseball, you add to that the addition of the Angels as a powerhouse team and their is alot of competition for the wild card spots and playoff positions. Adding an extra wild card helps, but every game whether in April or Sept count the same. Contenders aren’t in a position to wait too long to see what happens during the season.

            Phelps and Warren have proven they can pitch in AAA, after last night I think Warren has proved he can get big league hitters out. Both pitchers have had good AAA seasons as well as a good ST. They have a good body of work, better than other pitchers that have been brought up.

  8. I am not in favor of putting a rookie pitcher in the BP but, when one has a pitcher (example) like D-Rob what is the harm?
    Some of the guys we have will be BP pitchers anyhow (no, I don’t know who), those that can go 2 to 3+ innings with great stuff but, start losing it after that. The Yankees know who will be a starter in the show, or should know.There has been a plethora of very good pitchers that started out in the BP and then became starters.
    Both D-Rob and Mo were starters that couldn’t make it, for one reason or another but, putting them in the BP they became stars.
    Many pros and cons on the subject so, I would take each individual pitcher on a case by case situation. 🙂

    • old yankee, I agree with you 100%. I just think both Phelps and Warren look to be ready. They both have pitched well in AAA. They could regress if they are left in AAA. Both pitchers seem to be better than Wade, who lives off his change. For years the Yanks would have 3 or 4 new relievers every year. Both of these pitchers will be used as relievers this year at some time. One could be used as a long man. I’m not one to think that Wade and Logan are not replaceable.

      • The way I look at it is; Phelps and Warren are call-ups in case of injury because, they are starters and need not be stretched out.
        They may be up and down this year but, next year we lose Kuroda and Andy(?). Which make a conundrum, how can one pitch out of the BP and start only a few games in the Show…then be expected to go 160+/- innings the following year?
        I did some “Thunken on ut”, and came up with none of the three are to do anything other than start…in AAA or the majors! Call them up when needed but, only as starters!
        As things stand right now, we will need a pitcher or two this year. 🙂

        • old yankee, I agree it is a conundrum, but because we have only a possibility of one starter spot open next year. CC, Pineda, Nova, Hughes, ——. If the Yanks win big this year there’s a possibility of Kuroda signing another one year deal. That leaves one spot for Baneu los, Betances, Warren, and Phelps if the Yanks don’t go after a free agent pitcher, which I don’t think they will. That leaves one starting spot for the 3 pitchers. I see them starting AAA, building up innings, and then being brought up as relievers as needed. This way the Yanks can use them as starters or relievers next year. The more I think about it, keeping them as starters makes sense since Hughes, Pineda, and Nova are not sure things yet. You may be looking to replace more than one starter next year.

        • Hey Ken,Goog thunkin.So much can change during a 162 game season ,next year in sports is an eternity.
          Any 1 or more of our pitchers could suffer season ending injuries.

          Poor performance at the major league level could open door for a minor leaguer tearing it up.

          Free agency,if Hamels makes it to the open market I believe the Yanks would be in on him.The same way Cash was after LEE.

          • Ballpark….
            Nice of you to drop by, did you read my lies about my numbers as a pitcher? Really, I have no idea what my numbers were in the day, I just went by the saves/wins.
            Your post is very much to the point and I agree with it, we have seen this happen many times in the past…Joba is the first one to bite the dust.
            I disagree on one point though…trading or signing a free agent is something I don’t think will be in the cards. The Yankees want to get under the cap for 2014, so I figure we have a few young guys just itching to have a chance.
            Actually, most of this stuff is subjective an only a opinion…for me anyhow.

          • “next year in sports is an eternity”

            Not for Mets fans, as they start thinking about next year the day after their season opener. 😉

            I figured out a way the Yankees could sign Hamels, bring back Cano, and still get under the Luxury Tax threshold in 2014. But I don’t see that happening now, as I did that before the Pineda trade.

            I really think Pineda was dealt for to avoid feeling the need for a Hamels or Matt Cain (I expect Cain to be extended for sure), and with Sabathia, Nova, and possibly Hughes or the other kids, I don’t see them making any big FA splashes until 2016. Unless you count re-signing Cano, and possibly Swisher and/or Granderson.

            • I agree GP……

              IMO, the Pineda deal gives a clear glimpse of Cashman’s long-term plan. He could have traded Montero & Noesi in a package for other more established pitchers over the last year or so but they would have been making big money by 2014. Pineda has a chance to become a #2 and will only make a modest 2014 salary (maybe $3-4M?)in his first yr of arbitration.

              The team is well stocked with #3-5 type starters so if Pineda rises up to be the #2 it would allow them to use their money on Cano and dealing with the potential openings due to FA of Swisher, Granderson, Martin & the DH spot

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