In what comes as little surprise, the New York Yankees have elected to place struggling starting pitcher Phil Hughes on the disabled list. Initial reports that Hughes was heading to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre were not correct. While Hughes does not appear to be structurally injured, the team believes he is fighting through a dead-arm period that has taken a toll on his performance.
The 24-year-old Hughes has made headlines this April for his reduced velocity and ineffectiveness. Through three starts, he's thrown his fastball a few miles per hour below where it's been in the past, and opposing batters have taken liberal advantage. One glance at Hughes' numbers say all that needs to be said:
|2011 - Phil Hughes||0-1||3||3||0||0||0||0||10.1||19||16||16||4||4||3||13.94||2.23|
Hughes has been incredibly hittable, and is coming off a Thursday start against the Orioles that saw him get pulled in the fifth inning. He and pitching coach Larry Rothschild have no idea why things have gone so wrong, but the organization has clearly decided the solution isn't to keep throwing Hughes back out there and hoping things improve. They'll give him a break instead, getting him on a long toss program.
Lance Pendleton is coming up from AAA to take Hughes' roster spot for the time being, while Bartolo Colon will presumably slide from the bullpen into the starting rotation. Through 11.1 innings of relief, Colon has 13 strikeouts and three walks.
We'll see where Hughes goes from here. Ideally, in the Yankees' minds, he'll be able to build up his arm strength and return in just a few weeks. But mysterious drops in velocity are always cause for concern, and this will only remain a situation to monitor. Hughes is an important part of the Yankees' plans, and so this has turned into a real headache.