I wish I could tell you that a dominating performance by Sir Philip of Hughes would cement his place in the rotation and banish AJ Burnett to the bullpen. But if you listened to Brian Cashman yesterday, it sure sounds like AJ is the lead horse in this race. I know that Brian was simply addressing what he considers to be the unfair criticism of Burnett, and only touched on Hughes and the rotation competition briefly, but he made a pretty impassioned plea for AJs case to stay in the starting five. He sounded to me like a man preparing to defend a decision that’s already been made.
Phil’s early struggles and dead arm will be their excuse, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that Phil throws a 2 hitter this afternoon and makes them look as bad as possible if/when they pull the trigger on this. Moving Phil to the bullpen means losing him as a starting option come October, since his arm won’t be stretched out. Maybe they’ll swap him out for Noesi and have him prepare as the long man. But that just means he’ll never pitch, and if he’s not getting any game action you can’t expect him to be sharp. They can call this “a good problem to have” all they want, but watching Phil ride the pine while AJ wets his pants every time someone turns around one of his ‘electric’ fastballs is going to be rough. The bullpen doesn’t need Phil, it’s the best in the AL without him and Rafael Soriano has looked terrific since coming off the DL. Ugh, hopefully I’m wrong about all of this, but I doubt it.
Use this as your thread for this afternoon’s game. Hughes will be facing Jeremy Hellickson, so we get to watch to of the game’s bright young stars face off against each other.
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