Is there anyone who really thought the Yankees were going to stick to their plan and not call up Phil Hughes until the end of the season?
After a devastating 3-game sweep at the hands of Boston in which the Red Sox hit four home runs in a row of a pitcher who was in A-ball last season, the Yankees announced that Phil Hughes would be called up and will start the game on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The move makes sense for the Yankees. Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang are still hurting. Carl Pavano is having arm troubles as usual. Kei Igawa is just having troubles in general. Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright clearly have no place in the Major Leagues. Roger Clemens remains unsigned and undecided. All of which means that as it stands right now, the Yankees pitching rotation consists of Andy Pettite and then pray for four days of rain.
Hence the event that Yankees fans have been salivating for all winter long. The major league debut of the consensus number one pitching prospect in all of baseball.
There is little question that Hughes is ready for the Majors. His fastball runs up there at 95 mph with late tailing action, and his slider is major-league caliber (although the Yankees have tried to get him to stop throwing it for fear that it will hurt his arm).
But his real weapon is one of the nastiest curveballs in the game today. When he wants to get it in the zone for a called strike he usually brings it over the top, 12-6 but when he needs to get a swing and a miss he sometimes drops it down a bit, 1-7.
Jason Giambi famously compared Hughes to a young Roger Clemens in spring training (not that Giambi ever witnessed Roger when he was young), but really, the way Hughes pitches is much more like a right-handed version of Sandy Koufax – blazing fastball, killer curve, and tons of strikeouts
Last season, throwing almost nothing but fastballs and curves, Hughes dominated double-A batters, striking out nearly 11 batters every nine innings, and posting a 2.25 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.
PECOTA envisions a 3.86 ERA and 1.29 WHIP with a 7.4 K/9 in the Majors for Hughes. ZiPS expects a 4.06 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and 7.0 K/9. Roto Authority projects 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9. Those are some pretty awesome numbers, and if Hughes can stick with the Yankees for the rest of the season, we are talking 15 win territory, especially given the Yankees lineup.