Girardi: Hughes' season 'a struggle'

NEW YORK -- Before Phil Hughes made what could be his final start as a Yankee on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Joe Girardi reflected on his 27-year-old right-hander's time in pinstripes.

It sure sounded like an epitaph.

"He's had some good times and some rough times," Girardi said. "He's a guy that had a couple big years as a starter [and] a big year out of the bullpen, but struggled this year. This year has been a struggle for him. From a personal standpoint, if you're going to pick a year to struggle as a player, this is not the year to do it. And I feel bad for him because I know how badly he wants do to well and be success for this club and this franchise. He loves it here, and I feel bad for him, but he was a big part of our success in 2009 and in the next couple years he had some big years for us."

Entering this season, Hughes was hoping to have a great year and cash in as a result. It didn't happen.

Hughes has gone 4-13 with a 5.07 ERA. In 143 2/3 innings, he's allowed 163 hits -- 24 of them home runs. He has a 1.42 WHIP. In 13 of his 28 starts, he failed to get into the fifth inning. Hitters have feasted on his fastball (.320), changeup (.333) and curveball (.313). He was removed from the rotation, even though the Yankees basically had no one else to turn to.

Yeah. It has been that bad.

At this point, Hughes will be fortunate if the Yankees decide to make him a $14 million qualifying offer. Given the state of their rotation -- and the hope they could recoup a draft pick if he signs elsewhere -- they might have to.