Well, the “Phil Hughes Rules” are really paying off for the New York Yankees.

Limiting the number of innings the New York Yankees allow Hughes to pitch has not helped his career. Some believe it has hurt him. They may be right.

Hughes, who is a power pitcher, had a fast ball that was timed anywhere from 92-95 mph. This spring, it has been measured between 87-89 mph.

The New York Yankees’ pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, has stated that Hughes must increase his arm strength. The best way to do that is to pitch, but that is something the Yankees have been hesitant to allow their young pitchers to do.

The most innings Hughes ever worked in the minors was 116 in 2006. He allowed only 73 hits and struck out 138 batters.

Hughes joined the Yankees in 2007 after pitching a meager total of 37 and two-thirds innings for three minor league teams. He started 13 games for the Yankees, pitching 72 and two-thirds innings.

In 2007, at the age of 21, Hughes pitched 110 and one-third innings.

In 2008, appearing in only eight games with the big club, Hughes pitched 34 innings. He worked an additional 35 and two-thirds innings in the minors.

The following season, Hughes pitched six innings for the Yankees and 19 innings in the minors.

Hughes has suffered a number of injuries, including a broken toe in 2004, shoulder tendinitis in 2005, a pulled hamstring in 2007 and a rib stress fracture in 2008, but even when he has been healthy the Yankees have limited his innings.

Finally, in 2010, Hughes pitched close to a full season, but it was a season hampered by the “Phil Hughes Rules.”

The big right-hander started 29 games, winning 18 and losing only 8, but he still worked only 176 and one-third innings because Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi and then-pitching coach Dave Eiland had a plan.

They would give Hughes as much rest as possible, sometimes skipping his turn in the rotation and sometimes giving him one or more extra days of rest.

The “Hughes Rules” were idiotic. Hughes had been in an excellent groove and ranked among the best pitchers in the league. That ended once his routine was upset.

Young pitchers must be allowed to pitch, either in the minors to prepare to face major league hitters, or in the majors if they have the necessary skills.

Twenty three-year-old Andy Pettitte started 26 games, working 175 innings for the Yankees in 1995. The following season he pitched 221 innings. That was followed by 240 innings at the age of 25.

Pettitte never lost velocity off his fast ball, which was necessary to make his cutter his most effective pitch. Buck Showalter and then Joe Torre were careful with Pettitte, but he was allowed to pitch, and his elbow problems did not arise as a result of his working too many innings when he was young.

The Yankees’ current ace, C.C. Sabithia, shows no signs of deterioration. At the ripe old age of 20, yes, 20, good old Carsten Charles pitched 180 and one-third innings. When he was 22 years old, he pitched 210 innings.

Felix Hernandez, who may be the best pitcher in baseball this side of Roy Halladay, pitched 191 innings at the age of 20. 190 and one-third innings at the age of 21, and at the age of 23, his load increased to 238 and two-thirds innings.

In 2010, at the age of 24, Hernandez’ arm strength was enough for 249 and two-thirds innings and a Cy Young Award.

From Hank Steinbrenner to Randy Levine to Brian Cashman down to Joe Girardi, the Yankees management believe they have all the answers.

Sadly, for Phil Hughes, it is becoming obvious that they don’t.


Phil Hughes’ Lack of Velocity

Baseball Reference

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