On the heels of Ivan Nova’s impressive MLB debut as a starter, questions arose about how he will be worked in with the other starters. We found out right away that Javier Vazquez would be skipped a turn, but there was also the lingering question of how the Yanks will manage Phil Hughes’ innings this year. Yesterday, Mark Fiensand of the New York Daily News got some answers.
Tuesday, Joe Girardi announced that Vazquez (9-9, 5.05 ERA) would be skipped again this Sunday, but unlike the situation nearly four months ago, there’s no guarantee that the 13-year veteran will reclaim his job.
Rookie Ivan Nova, who impressed Girardi Monday night against the Blue Jays, will start on Sunday, effectively replacing Vazquez in the rotation for the immediate future.
“The last time we skipped Javy a start, it kick-started him and got him on a roll,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying what we’ll do after Sunday, but maybe it will help him physically.”
Girardi wouldn’t commit to anything for the following turn through the rotation, leaving Vazquez’s future in limbo. The manager hinted that Vazquez could be used to help shorten Phil Hughes’ starts, as the Yankees continue to monitor the 24-year-old’s innings count.
“We’ll be flexible with Hughes as we’re moving down the stretch here,” Girardi said. “(The Vazquez/Nova move) might give us an opportunity to shorten his game a lot one time or even to skip him.”
Vazquez was predictably upset by the news, although after posting a 6.69 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break and an 8.10 mark in four August starts, it didn’t come as a huge shock.
“I’m not surprised, just disappointed,” Vazquez said. “I’m not doing my job.”
Vazquez will be available in the bullpen tonight, not so coincidentally on the same night that Hughes is slated to make his next start. Hughes has thrown 140-2/3 innings, roughly 35-40 short of the reported limit of 175-180.
I’ll assume that they’ll put Phil on an 80 pitch per start limit, which is similar to what they’re doing with Dellin Betances right now and how they handle most of their young arms in the minors as they approach their innings limits. That means he’ll get about 5 innings per start, which limits his workload but still gives him an opportunity to get a Win. Hughes’ turn comes up another 6 times over the remaining 36 games left in the season. Assuming they skip him once or twice, that puts him at 160-165 IP for the 2010 season. Below his target, and leaving him room to stay in the rotation come October.
I support the move. I like that they’re reducing his workload this way at the end of the season. This is far preferable to the disastrous Joba Rules of 2008, which admittedly was a result of Chien Ming Wang going down for the season and a lack of reliable rotation options. When a young pitcher approaches an innings high, he’s in uncharted territory. Very often they will run out of gas as they approach the finish line, which at best reduces their effectiveness and at worst can result in injury. This should keep Phil strong for October, where he figures to get at least one start in each round of the playoffs.
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