With Chien Ming Wang placed on the DL yesterday, Yankee manager Joe Girardi was asked specifically about one possible replacement named Phil Hughes. Here was his response:
“I can say one thing, I don’t see us taking him out of that role right now. He’s probably less built up than anyone that we have so he will probably not be one of our options. … I see him staying in the bullpen.”
Hughes, down the road, is he still a starter?
“I still believe that he is a starter. You’ll see a lot of young pitchers that come up and have success in the bullpen and then the move them over to the rotation because on any given day you’re not asking too much from them in a sense. I think his stuff right now plays out well in both, but I think he’s been really, really good in the bullpen and has been really helpful to us, and that’s another reason that we might keep him there for a while. And the other thing is he’s not built up, and it’s tough to build them up here. You would have to send him down for a while and we’re not comfortable doing that right now with the way he’s throwing the baseball.”
Heatstroke Nice to see they learned their lesson from the Joba experience last year. Joba was stretched out on the MLB level and it worked out very poorly for the club. He didn’t pitch all that well, it killed their bullpen every 5th day, and teams took advantage of the reduced pitch counts by waiting him out, making matters worse. Did I mention that Joba wound up with a sore shoulder at the end of the year?
The only way to do this would be to send Phil down to AAA Scranton for 3 weeks, and Wang is expected back in about a month. So you would be stretching him out for approximately one start, and then putting him right back in the bullpen on Wang’s return. You would lose his services to the MLB club in the interim, making the still-rusty (and possibly hurt) Brian Bruney our setup man. The cherry on top of this idea is that jerking a pitcher back and forth from the rotation and bullpen is a great way to get him hurt, especially a young pitcher like Hughes at 23, and he’s been injury prone to begin with.
I share the sentiment that Phil Hughes is a starter long term, and fully expect him to be back in the rotation next year. But he’s been so good for us out of the bullpen that I doubt it will happen this year. The Red Sox have the #1 bullpen in all of Baseball, and we’re 0-8 against the hated Sox this season. We need to bridge that gap to get where we want to go, and Phil is an important part of that equation.
It aint broke, folks. Let’s not go out of our way to break it.
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