First Pitch: Potential ful-Philled?

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
7:00
AM ET


TORONTO -- No one has ever said Phil Hughes couldn't be a No. 4 or 5 starter. Even with two pitches, he probably could be at the end of a rotation. Maybe even the Yankees'.

But we have all expected a lot more from Hughes. So Hughes has had two straight quality starts against the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals. It is definitely progress, but those are the type of offenses that fifth starters should handle.

Wednesday night not withstanding, the Jays haven't hit as well as advertised thus far, but they have some mashers in their lineup.

"I'm just trying to keep everything rolling," Hughes said.

In his career, Hughes is 4-1 with a 4.00 ERA in seven games (four starts) at Rogers Centre. He said he likes the control conditions of the dome.

Joe Girardi likes the way that Hughes has pitched lately. He said it is not just because he has faced some cruddy lineups. (Of course, what else is he going to say?)

"I think he has pitched better," Girardi said.

Girardi pointed to an improved change to go along with Hughes' fastball and curve.

Girardi reasoned that Hughes' improvement the last two times out is because he is a better pitcher than what he had shown the in his first five starts, in which Hughes went 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA. In his wins over Kansas City and Seattle, Hughes had a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings.

Which Hughes will show up tonight against the Jays?

UP NOW: Hiroki Kuroda was awful and all the blogs that were fit to print from the Blue Jays clubbing of the Yanks on Wednesday.

ON DECK CIRCLE: Katie Sharp will bring the What2Watch4 noise around 11:30 a.m. We will be on the blog all day.

WHAT'S NEXT: Hughes vs. Drew Hutchinson (2-1, 5.53 ERA). On Friday, the Yankees return home as Andy Pettitte (0-1, 5.68) makes his second comeback start against Brandon, err Bronson, Arroyo of the Reds. Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.44) will go Saturday if his ankle is up to it. He will face Homer Bailey (1-3, 4.35 ERA). On Sunday, it should be a fun one as CC Sabathia ( 5-1, 3.77) vs. Johnny Cueto (4-1, 1.89).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What will Phil Hughes' line be against the Jays?
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 67
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .764
ERAH. Kuroda 3.81
SOM. Tanaka 135