You remember Phil Hughes, right? That great young pitcher the Yankees have decided is more valuable out of the bullpen? Well, have you seen him lately? It seems that the team, or at least manager Joe Girardi, has decided that the best way to utilize the kid’s talent is by using him as infrequently as possible. People used to trash Joe Torre for overusing his Circle of Trust™ relievers, but now we have the exact opposite going on; they aren’t being used enough.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that even though he was going to work in relief the rest of the season, Hughes would be generally okay in terms of his innings count, but since that post 22 days ago, Hughes has thrown a grand total of 5.1 innings, or just one every four days or so. Just to put this underuse in even more perspective, let’s bullet point some more stats:
- In the month of August (remember, today’s the 28th), Hughes has thrown exactly 8 IP.
- Here are the American League relievers that have thrown fewer innings than Hughes this month: Randy Choate (LOOGY), Edgar Gonzalez (Oakland’s mop-up guy), Jess Todd (called up a week into August), and Jason Jennings (DFA’d). That’s it. There’s roughly 155 relief pitchers in the American League at any given moment, and just four have been used less this month.
- Over the last 14 days Hughes has made two appearances, throwing 2.1 IP and a grand total of 37 pitches. Two appearances in the last two weeks. That would be fine if he were, you know, a starter.
- Over the last 16 days, he’s thrown 4.2 IP and 81 pitches.
- Every other pitcher on the Yankees staff has thrown more innings this month, including Chad Gaudin, who didn’t join the team until August 9th.
I understand that relief pitchers have become more and more specialized (damn you, Tony LaRussa, damn you to hell) and that the 8th inning has somehow morphed into the most important inning in the history of New York baseball, but this is getting ridiculous. We’ve seen the last two times out that Hughes was battling rust, yet the solution seems to be use him … less.
Please, more Phil Hughes. You’ll be amazed by what you see.