Here’s what we know about Phil Hughes: Last night, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on ten hits in five and two-thirds innings — and did so against a weak-hitting Seattle lineup. (Letting Ichiro knock you out of the game with a two-run double would be one thing; allowing Rob Johnson to do it is another.) Beyond that is really anyone’s guess. Yes, his worst start of the year came after being skipped in the name of the Hughes Rules. But the Cy Young candidate of April and May hasn’t been around for awhile now.
His 4–1 record in June is misleading: He posted an ERA of 5.17 for the month. Most likely it’s something of a correction: Hughes may really be the pitcher who had an ERA under two over the first month of the season, but more likely, he’s something a bit more human than that. Perhaps he’s missed Dave Eiland — who rejoined the team yesterday — as much as A.J. Burnett has. Or maybe he really was rusty from the extra rest, and being skipped hurt him as much as it helped Javier Vazquez earlier in the season.
In any case, Hughes’s outing looks even worse when compared to that of Cliff Lee. Lee didn’t have his absolute best stuff last night — he allowed two home runs to Nick Swisher, and more shockingly, actually walked somebody — but his A-minus stuff is still good enough for a 7–4 complete game win. Once again, he looked plenty comfortable at Yankees Stadium. But if he’s going to pitch for the Yankees at some point — or for the Mets, for that matter — he’s going to have to learn how to properly ride the subway first.