Phil Hughes was a Yankees uber-prospect coming up, a former first round draft pick out of California that rocketed through the team’s farm system. He was named Baseball America’s 39th-best prospect going into the 2006 season, and #3 going into 2007; Baseball Prospectus ranked him #2. Through his first four minor league campaigns, including a five-start stint at Triple A, he was 25-8 with a 2.09 ERA; In 275 innings, he had 311 strikeouts and just 171 hits allowed.
But the major leagues is a far cry from the minors, even Triple A. Though his debut campaign, 2007, wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t what fans were expecting—in 13 starts, he went 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA. After an awful sophomore campaign, when he went 0-4 with a 6.62 mark in 8 starts, he was relegated to the bullpen for 2009, where he had some success. In 51 appearances (7 starts), he posted a 3.03 ERA with 96 Ks in 86 innings.
Back in the rotation for 2010, he went 18-8 in 176.1 innings to earn an All-Star nod, before falling to 5-5, 5.79 in 2011. That pattern would define Hughes’ career—a good year, then a bad year, then a good year. He went 16-13, 4.19 in 2012, then 4-14, 5.19 in 2013. 16-10, 3.52 in 2014, 11-9, 4.40 in 2015. The wheels fell off in 2016, and from then on, he was a combined 5-10, 6.01 in 145.1 innings.
While he didn’t live up to his billing, his career was solid—he went 88-79 overall—and he had some noteworthy highlights. His postseason career, especially, had some excellent games, such as his 2010 ALDS start against the Twins. In 7 innings, he allowed no runs on 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6 batters. He last played in the majors in 2018.