After Phil Hughes’ dominant inning against the Rays Monday night, some Yankee fans have begun calling for the Yankees to leave Phil in the bullpen for the rest of the season. The possible benefit for the Yankees is obvious. Hughes is not likely to be in the playoff rotation, as the Yankees are almost certain to have 4 better starters at their disposal. Therefore, the 2009 club might be better served by keeping Hughes in the bullpen rather than in the AAA rotation. As Anthony Rieber notes:
The Brave Engineer download The best thing for the Yankees would be to find out that Hughes can help them in the bullpen this season. Then, if they get to the playoffs, here’s what they can throw at you:
Yes, Joba will be in the bullpen by the time the playoffs come around because of the innings limit thing.
Power arms in the pen. Two power arms in the rotation (CC and AJ) and two veteran finesse guys (Pettitte and Wang).
Pretty tough in a short series.
Personally, I feel the same way about Hughes that I do about Joba. The Yankees need to build up his innings and develop him as a starter, something that is unlikely to happen in the MLB bullpen. However, there is one major difference between the two cases. As Steve at Was Watching states:
Part of the lament about Hughes as a starting pitcher has been around the fact that he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and a curve) and that his fastball is in the lower-90’s. And, while this is enough to fool minor league batters, this requires him to have pinpoint control/command, or face an impatient and aggressive swinging team, to excel as a starter in the majors…….
This all said, it’s been proven that someone can pitch out of the bullpen, at the major league level, with just two-pitches – providing that one is exceptional and the other is enough to keep batters honest. And, as a relief pitcher, because you’re only facing a line-up once, at the max, in a game, you can get away with just having those two pitches.
The Shaggy D.A. Hughes currently being a two pitch pitcher is a notion I disagree with, as I think his cutter is a solid third offering, but I will certainly concede that he has lesser stuff than Joba. With the 2009 Yankees needing another bullpen arm and the 2010-16 Yankees needing Hughes in the rotation, the Yankees have a difficult decision to make. Do they delay Hughes’ development by another year in order to bolster this season’s club? As Joel Sherman puts it
There is no team that defines win now quite like the Yankees. They have a $200 million-plus payroll and all the pressures that come with their name, opening a new stadium and running their own network – with all of that magnified because the Yanks did not make the playoffs last year. Yet forsaking the future for short-term happiness has often created problems for the Yankees. And they have spent an awful lot of time and energy in recent years working toward an era when both Hughes and Joba Chamberlain would be fixtures in their rotation.
Even for the Yanks it is an interesting decision when you have to weigh what you think is good for today vs. what you think is good for tomorrow.
Hopefully Brian Bruney returns at full strength and renders this discussion moot. Bruney and Aceves should be able to handle the late inning work, making Hughes expendable in the bullpen. He could then go to AAA, approach his innings limit, and then return to NY in September to transition to the bullpen for the playoffs.
What do you think the Yankees should do?
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