First it was Obi-Wang. Then it was Joba Chamberlain down in the minors. Now it’s Mike Mussina, the supposed rock of stability that always seems to be one little tremor away from a landslide. Hamstring injuries have run rampant through the Yanks organization in 2007, and they’ve been on the rise in all of baseball the last couple of years. Maybe guys are slacking off during pregame stretching, maybe their muscles are deteriorating from PED use, maybe they’re all just fluke injuries. No matter what’s causing them, the Yanks have to deal with ‘em.
Looking at the schedule, I figure the rotation shakes out like this:
That TBD guy is what I’m here to talk about.
First off, I don’t think there’s a chance Moose returns for that Saturday start. Hamstring injuries always seem to take longer to heal than originally expected, so a 10 day recovery timetable seems a bit too optimistic.Â I don’t think Wang and Karstens will be ready, seeing how both need one or two rehab starts in the minors at the very least. I doubt Cashman panics and trades for a starter, so obviously the Yanks are going to have to dip into the minor leagues to cover this start. The cool part is that this time it won’t be a Kris Wilson or an Aaron Small riding in to the save the day, it’llÂ beÂ an actual young, talented arm. F’in amazing, ain’t it?
Triple-A Scranton’s rotation lines up like so (yes, they really don’t have an off-day between now and then):
Thursday: Phil Hughes
Saturday: Ross Ohlendorf
Sunday: Mighty Matt
Monday: Steven Jackson
Tuesday: Tyler Clippard
Wednesday: Phil Hughes
Thurday: Ross Ohlendorf
Friday: Mighty Matt
Saturday: Tyler Clippard
So it looks like the beloved Tyler Clippard lines up perfectly to take the ball that day, but he’s not exactly a great option. He’s been so-so in his 2 starts this year (don’t give me that “his defense made errors behind him last night” crap – being able to bear down and battle throughÂ those situations is what separates the great from the merely adequete) and I highly doubt he’s ready to jump to the bigs and have his first start be at Fenway park. I see him as an emergency option only for that game.
Chase Wright has been the Double-A equivalent of Felix Hernandez, dominating hitters in his 2 starts. He’s old for his level (24), and the jump from AA to the bigs can be disasterous (see Henn, Sean circa 2005). Trenton doesn’t have an off day between now and then either, so he lines up to make the start on regular rest. But would you want him facing the Red Sox in Fenway for his first game? No way, I don’t even see him being much more than a sometimes decentÂ middle reliever down the road.
So let’s stop beating around the bush:Â they should letÂ Phil Hughes start. Yes, start him on short rest. Yes, start him against the all powerful Red Sox in Fenway Park in his first ever big league action. I know it sounds crazy, but such is life. He was good in his first AAA start, and looking at the way his career has shaped up to his point, he’s only going to get better with time. By his third Triple-A start next week, he could be throwing those 1 H, 0 BB, 10 K outings we became accustomed to last year, and there’s no point in wasting that in Triple-A (much like the Phillies realized last year after Cole Hamels went 23 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 36 K in AAA).
One start on short rest won’t kill the kid, it’s not like he’s going to throw 110 pitches the start before anyway. And besides, he’s 20 years old, his arm could handle it. Experience is the key to life, and there really wouldn’t beÂ anything better for his confidence to know that the Yankees believe he’s ready to start his ML career on such a big stage. He makes the start and the Yanks see what they have. If he strugglesÂ it’s no biggie. It’s better to get past the training wheels in April than August.
Can you think of a better option? (doing a rain dance doesn’t count)
Photo via Baseball America.