Phil Hughes gets his first chance to whittle down that 13.94 ERA tonight in Cleveland.
It's Phil Hughes Day here in Yankees Universe. The right-hander returns to the hill tonight after three rehab starts convinced management he was well enough to return to the parent club.
Even still, I don't think most Yankees fans — and likely the Yankees themselves — will feel comfortable until Hughes proves he's healthy on a big-league mound. He gets that chance tonight in Cleveland, where the Yankees close out their three-game series at
The Jake Progressive Field.
Just for housekeeping purposes, a brief Hughes recap: After winning 18 games a season ago, Hughes entering spring training with his fastball lacking its usual zip. The hope was that he'd regain the velocity by opening day, but that never happened as a series of April slaughters led to a DL stint. The mysterious "dead arm" term was replaced by "shoulder inflammation" and Hughes disappeared for awhile.
Now he's back.
3 game series vs Indians @ Progressive Field
WP: Josh Tomlin (10 - 4)
SV: Chris Perez
LP: A.J. Burnett (8 - 7)
|3 - 6 loss|
WP: CC Sabathia (12 - 4)
LP: Carlos Carrasco (8 - 5)
|9 - 2 win|
Hughes takes the place of Ivan Nova, who deserved a better fate than riding buses in the minors again (though when you're young and have options, shiz happens). Hughes will probably be used conservatively initially — I'd be surprised if he throws more than 90 pitches tonight, but then again, I have no access to The Binder.
"I know it’ll be good," Hughes told LoHud. "I know my stuff is there, I just have to execute pitches. I know if I do that, I’ll be fine. I’m not going out there with any wonder or curiosity or doubt. I’m just going out trying to execute every pitch I can."
Bottom line, it's a good and important day for the Yankees, who would become that much more dangerous if Hughes can return to his pre-All-Star break form of a year ago.
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danhanzus.