First Pitch: Help 'em, Hughes

August, 10, 2013
8/10/13
8:00
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova need help.

As the Yankees have slipped in the standings over the past month, one of their biggest issues has been a lack of a quality pitching behind Kuroda and Nova. The team has been able to count on those two, but CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have been far too erratic to provide consistent help.

Saturday, Hughes takes the mound against Detroit, and it would be a huge boost to the Yankees if he could be a reliable starter down the stretch.

Dating back to May 10, when Hughes improved to 2-2, he's 2-8 with a 5.11 ERA. Yes, the Yankees don't score that much for him, giving him just 3.22 runs per game, but it's tough to win with Hughes' numbers. Hughes far too often has followed his hot streaks with absolute dreadful performances.

In his past two outings, Hughes has been particularly bad, lasting a total of 6 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay and San Diego while giving up 10 runs and 15 hits. In his past five starts, Hughes had made it to the seventh inning just once, and he hasn't won since July 2.

When Hughes is going well, he's one of the best No. 5 pitchers in baseball. This season, though, there's been far too many times when he's struggled to get through the middle innings. He's 4-10 with a 4.87 ERA overall.

If the Yankees have any hope of making a playoff push, they need better results from the other three starters in their rotation. Hughes has a chance to make a statement Saturday against the Tigers.

UP NOW: A-Rod played in his first game and heard some boos and cheers while going 0-for-4. He was also reprimanded before the game. Wallace Matthews wrote about A-Rod's awful night -- and hasty exit. I tackled Mariano Rivera's blown save and Brett Gardner's game-winning hit.

IN THE HOLE: The Yankees take on the Tigers. Hughes faces Anibal Sanchez, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Wally, Ian Begley and I will have you covered from the Stadium. Thanks, as always, for reading.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you believe Hughes can turn his season around?

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.289 8 47 47
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 61
OPSB. Gardner .787
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135