There’s been a lot of talk this week about six man rotations and the Yankees. It seems that the media, too, is whipping up the competition angle when it comes to Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. If Joe Girardi doesn’t stick with the six man rotation, it would appear that one of Nova or Hughes will be headed to the bullpen or back to AAA Scranton. No matter who pitches better, I want neither pitcher to end up in the Yankee bullpen.
Putting one of them in the bullpen might be slightly better for the short term, but it will hurt the pitcher in the long term. In fact, I think we could argue that sending them to the bullpen won’t really help the team. With Rafael Soriano back and David Robertson beasting the American League, it’s unlikely that Hughes or Nova would get many shots at pitching meaningful innings.
Putting either pitcher in the bullpen would also curb the one thing both pitchers need to work on: mixing in their secondary offerings. When Ivan Nova has been at his most successful this year, it’s been when he’s thrown more pitches than just fastball/curveball. If he sticks to his two pitch approach, he gets hit harder the deeper the game goes. Put him in the bullpen and he’s not going to get much of a chance to work on his changeup and slider against real hitters. The same goes for Phil Hughes. It seems that each and every start, I beg him to throw more than just fastball/cutter. He’s been getting better about mixing the curveball, though we’re not seeing his changeup much.
Both Hughes and Nova have minor league options and if they can’t pitch well enough to stay in the Major League rotation, they need to be stashed away at AAA to not only allow them to keep working on their secondary offerings, but to act as insurance. I like Bartolo Colon and I like Freddy Garcia; what they’ve done for the Yankee rotation this year has been nothing short of outstanding. Who among us thought that they would put up a combined 5.5 fWAR this year? Still, there’s always a chance that one of them–most likely Colon–could break down. If the Yankees don’t have proper insurance in the minor leagues, they could be in trouble if a pitcher goes down. With Nova or Hughes in the pen, the Yankees would have to resort to dipping into the minors for lesser pitchers to take starts and when the season starts getting old like it is now, that’s a risky proposition. So, please, Yankees, make the right call here. If you decide to take one of these guys out of the rotation, please do the smart thing and send that pitcher to the minors.
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