Sunday, September 10, 2006

New York Post Article

Two interesting tidbits from the Post:

The biggest question facing Philip Hughes when this season began concerned his ability to endure pitching all year. His first two pro seasons ended with injury, most disturbing two shoulder ailments last year that limited him to 91 1/3 innings. The Yanks were going to consider 2006 a success if they simply could get their top pitching prospect to make all his starts.

Hughes has done so much more than that. He not only has gone wire-to-wire, but he is finishing stronger than he began. He struck out 13, walked one and permitted one run Wednesday in a Double-A playoff opener. Since July 1, Hughes is 6-0 with a 1.32 ERA with 12 walks and 84 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. Before the playoffs, the Yanks were limiting Hughes to no more than five innings.

Still, it is impressive that in his last 12 starts, only once did he permit more than one earned run. So impressive, in fact, that one AL executive who saw him pitch in this period proclaimed, "Philip Hughes is the best pitching prospect in baseball. He has a chance to be at the level of [Minnesota's Francisco] Liriano and [Seattle's Felix] Hernandez. He's that good, one of the best I've seen in awhile. He strikes people out, doesn't walk anybody and has dominant stuff."

Nothing unusual here. As Yankee fans, we've been attuned to Hughes' praise to the point that it seems routine. The more interesting part of the article:

The Yanks are heading to the playoffs where they can expect to see the best pitchers. But that might not be all bad news. The Yanks have faced seven of the pitchers who ranked in the top 10 in AL ERA going into the weekend. In those 13 games, Johan Santana, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, Scott Kazmir, Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey and Barry Zito had combined to go 3-6 with a 5.28 ERA and .311 batting average against. Now timing is everything. The Santana the Yanks faced in mid-April is nowhere near the pitcher he has been in the second half.

This affirm what I feel Yankee fans knew deep down all along. It's a relatively meaningless statistic, but we've beaten up on really good pitchers. It bodes well for us in the playoffs.