The Yankees star-crossed season continues. After displaying the brilliance that Yankees fans have been hankering for, Phil Hughes comes up lame and becomes the 5th Yankees starting pitcher to hit the DL this season. This staggering rash of injuries got their strength and conditioning coach fired. I am of two minds about last night's developments.
Glass Half Full
At twenty years of age, Phil Hughes dominated a pretty good hitting Major League club, in the best hitters' park in the AL. In a single start, he erased all doubts that he belongs in the big leagues. He might miss as few as 5 starts and be back in plenty of time to recreate his Steve Nebraska routine by early June. Even if he misses 2 months, it doesn't matter in the big picture. Phil Hughes is the future. That he is so good right now is gravy. Besides, it was only a hamstring injury. If he had hurt his arm, I'd be worried. In fact, this injury might be beneficial to his arm in the long run. The main reason the Yankees were so reluctant to call Hughes up this early was concern about keeping his innings pitched down this year. Problem solved.
Glass Half Empty
Having a "future star" is little solace when you are 5 1/2 games behind Boston and your pitching has been an (insert your own fading young starlet; Spears, Lohan, Hilton, etc.)-level train wreck. We need Phil Hughes this Sunday, not in mid-June. And it only takes one setback to turn 4 to 6 weeks into 3 months. By that time, they will be throwing the dirt on the coffin of the 2007 Yankees.
Anyway, I reject the notion that Phil Hughes is a can't-miss ace for the next 15 years. The guy is very good RIGHT NOW and that is all we can be sure of. If you need proof of how quickly a presumptive future Hall of Fame pitcher can turn into a Pete Gray-esque historical footnote, look no further than Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Rick Ankiel. It happens more often than not.
Right now I am leaning slightly towards the latter way of thinking. I can't bank on the hope that he comes back in a month or so like he didn't miss a beat, with the Yanks still strongly in contention. This is not most likely not our year.