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MLB Today: Phil Hughes’ Inconsistency Returns

September 3, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Davey Johnson has guided the Washington Nationals to first place.
Will Davey Johnson and the Nats pull the plug on Stephen Strasburg?

Wasn’t it just over a month ago that we were talking about the run that New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes was on and how he should be scooped up in shallow leagues where he had been dropped?

Uh, ya… about that.

Since then, Hughes has been Mr. Inconsistent. He took back-to-back beat downs in Detroit and Toronto, then proceeded to right the ship with strong performances against Boston, the White Sox and Toronto to nearly carve his ERA back under 4.00.

Then came Sunday’s vitally important outing against Baltimore. In seven starts at home since June 26, he had gone 6-0, retired the first seven batters Sunday and was cruising along with a 2-0 cushion after four innings, having giving it up just two hits. It still remained 3-1 Yanks through five.

And then, as Hughes said “the wheels just came off.”

The sixth began walk-single-single-homer and the Orioles were on their way to victory – a win that would pull them back within two games of the Yanks in the AL East. In retrospect, Hughes should have never been allowed to pitch to Mark Reynolds, whose three-run homer gave Baltimore the lead in the sixth. Manager Joe Girardi should have seen that coming the way Hughes quickly unravelled that inning.

The two homers allowed by Hughes gives him dingers served in six straight starts and 32 coughed up overall, which ties him for the major league deal with Ervin Santana and Tommy Hunter.

Hughes had actually regained a lot of traction on the wire recently after his nice run heading into this start. Frankly, we’re not sure what to make of him at this time. Our suggestion: if you own him, hold him and see how it goes next time out. Generally speaking, Hughes has been well worth using at Yankee Stadium (10-4, 3.56), but Fantasy anathema on the road (3.8, 5.03). Let that be your guide for now.

Still, from an overall perspective, he’s made nice strides this year after a 2011 campaign in which he simply didn’t look good enough to remain a major league starter.

Quick Hits

  • Back in mid-June, we suggested that Jason Bay still hadn’t recovered from a broken rib and that was perhaps the cause of his struggles. Well, he must be past that by now. Yet, heading into action Sunday, Bay had exactly one hit in 13 at-bats since August 17, a period of ineptitude that had left him (a) mostly sitting on the bench; and (b) virtually off the radar for Fantasy purposes. So what does he do Sunday? How about two hits, including a grand salami? In his first start in about a week, Bay launched his fifth career slam to give the Mets a sweep over the Marlins. The unexpected offensive burst might reverse the non-stop parade of owners dumping Bay, but we wouldn’t advise suddenly giving him a look. The dude may not even reach double digits in homers; he’s hitting .160 and has yet to reach 20 RBI on the season. Oh man. Year three of that four-year, $66-million deal the Mets gave Bay has still failed to yield dividends. Bust city, baby!
  • When we ranked Jurickson Profar as our No. 6 prospect this spring, we suggested he wouldn’t be rushed as long as Texas owned Elvis Andrus. Well, now that Profar has reached the majors, how will Andrus adjust? The early results are promising. Andrus smacked three hits Sunday, scoring once and stealing a base, as he ran his hit streak to six games. July was pretty ugly for Andrus, but otherwise he’s been quite steady as he enjoys the finest season of his career. He’s again scoring a boatload of runs for the high-powered Rangers, however, his strikeout rate is back up after he took strides in that department last year. Andrus continues to be a good source of steals and he’s getting on base way more than ever before – a very nice combo. He’s also beefed up his extra-base pop somewhat. As much of a buzz Andrus caused when he arrived in the majors, Profar is creating a similar vibe. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out next year in Texas. Will Andrus be dealt this winter? It’s something to keep an eye on.
  • Manager Davey Johnson and the NL East-leading Washington Nationals have a major decision looming. Stephen Strasburg bounced back nicely Sunday with six shutout innings, running his season count to 156 1/3 – one start shy of that magical 160 IP limit the Nats said they would observe. Johnson now says Strasburg will make two more starts, with his season finale coming on September 12. Options like having him sit extra between starts (like what the White Sox did with Chris Sale much of this season) or moving him to the bullpen are not feasible, Johnson says. That’s right… the Nats, who are scuffling somewhat lately (but not losing any ground) are going to shut down their ace with the playoffs a month away. Then again, Washington is playing .585 ball when Strasburg doesn’t start, so maybe this team can continue its playoff push without him.

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