From Rob Neyer:
Which is where Hughes comes in. Chamberlain is the Yankees’ No. 4 starter. Sergio Mitre is the Yankees’ No. 5 starter. Which means the Yankees, as things stand now, have only three reliable starters. And again, you need four of them when the leaves are turning in New England.
I know, I know … Phil Hughes has been so good in the bullpen: 1.11 ERA with an overpowering strikeout-to-walk ratio. Make him a starter again and he’s not going to post numbers anything like those. But to help the Yankees, he doesn’t have to be anywhere near that good; he just has to be measurably better than Chamberlain and Mitre. Particularly if — and I know this is highly speculative — Chamberlain regains his dominant stuff upon returning to a relief role.
Perhaps I’m overreacting to Chamberlain’s recent struggles, and the Yankees are good enough to win the World Series even without a decent fourth starter. But the other day somebody asked me what could keep the Yankees from winning. I didn’t have a good answer, because this is essentially a team without a weakness.
Except one. And with a little creativity, they could probably make it zero.
I hate to pick on Rob, but there are a number of reasons why this is a terrible idea. Firstly, I am no injury expert, but yanking both guys in and out of roles can only be a negative in terms of their health. Furthermore, I would hate to mess with Hughes when he is pitching so well, and there is no guarantee that either pitcher takes to the new role. You may end up with neither a 4th starter nor an 8th inning guy. Even if it does work out, the marginal upgrade from Joba to Hughes in the rotation is unlikely to be worth the risk. It seems likely that the Yankees will need a 4th starter twice in all of the postseason, which means that a good 8th inning guy may actually be about as valuable as another starter. This is just a bad idea that would provide marginal benefits while risking significant costs.
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