These Rules belong to Phil

Jesus Montero has the audacity to work on his defense behind the plate
The pursuit of Curtis Granderson

For much of the last three years, we’ve heard more than we ever wished to about the Joba Rules. First, these rules dictated how often Joba could pitch out of the bullpen. Then, they dictated how many innings he would pitch in preparation for becoming a starter. Then, they dictated how many innings he could pitch in a single season as a starter. Then, they dictated how many pitches he could throw in one outing as the Yanks tried to keep him under his innings count. It was quite the process.

In 2010, Joba will no longer have rules. He’s passed all the tests, some with better results than others, and the Yanks are prepared to let him go this year. He’ll throw as many innings as the Yankees need him to. However, one of the Yanks’ other young guns — Phil Hughes — won’t be as lucky. As the Joba Rules exit stage left, the Hughes Rules enter stage right.

In an interview on WFAN available here, Yanks’ pitching coach Dave Eiland spoke about the Hughes Rules, and Steve S. at The Yankee U offers up a transcription of the interview. First, Eiland noted that Joba’s lack of innings limit does not give him a leg up in the fifth starter race this spring, and then, he addressed the Hughes question.

“You’ve got to remember,” Eiland said, “Joba had restrictions because he never had a full season in professional baseball as a starter. Phil Hughes has had several minor league seasons as a starter. So there’s going to be restrictions, but they’re not going to be as strenuous as Joba. And I’ll just leave it at that, right there. There’s restrictions, and we’re on the side of caution with all our guys.”

As Steve notes at TYU, Hughes’ career innings high came in 2006 when, as a 20-year-old, he threw 146 innings, all at the minor league level. I doubt the Yanks will let Hughes exceed that total by 30 innings, the generally accepted increase for a young starter, because he hasn’t reached that level in three full seasons. However, the Yanks would probably allow Hughes 150 innings. It’s tough to see him reaching that as a sixth starter/bullpen guy, but he’ll have to outpitch Joba in Spring Training to earn that rotation spot.

In the end, the Yankees have a problem many teams would love to have. They have too many good young pitchers and not enough rotation spots. Somehow, I imagine, this will all work out in the end but not after we hear about the Hughes Rules over and over again.

Jesus Montero has the audacity to work on his defense behind the plate
The pursuit of Curtis Granderson
  • Andrew

    I believe Joba should win the job out of ST because there are no limits with him this year, but if Phil has a great ST and Joba looks bad I have no problem letting Phil be the 5th starter and the nature of baseball is pitchers always get hurt so whoever doesnt win the job will probably have a chance to start during the season.

    • Zack

      “so whoever doesnt win the job will probably have a chance to start during the season.”

      Not if they put them strictly in the 8th inning

      • Andrew

        Your right but the question is does putting the loser in as the 8th inning guy make sense? In the short term win now mentality it does, but whoever goes to the 8th loses another year or two because the following they will need to build innings up again, especially if it is Phil. I think the loser will be placed in the pen and given as many innings as possible, so instead of being just an 8th inning guy the loser may pitch from when the starter leaves to mo or close it themselves if the game is not close. They wont be able to do that everyday of course but i think making them go multiple innings forces them to use more of their secondary stuff that would be needed as a starter.

        • whozat

          could’ve done that last season, and they didn’t. Sure, it’d be nice if they deployed the loser as you suggest, but it’s entirely possible that it won’t.

  • Charlie

    *in professional baseball and *many teams would love to have.

    I know this seems kinda picky but i think it would help if you guys read over what you wrote before you put it up

    Anyway, on the actual topic, Joba should have a leg up on the competition. I guess Eiland’s just covering his ass. And I wouldn’t be worried about Hughes pitching too many innings. I’m much more worried that he won’t even get 100 innings if he’s primarily pitching out of the bullpen.

    • Mike Axisa

      I know this seems kinda picky but i think it would help if you guys read over what you wrote before you put it up

      Ben didn’t write that, that’s the part he copied from the TYU article he cited.

      • Jose

        There are major issues with the last paragraph of this post.

        • Manimal

          How? It seems fine to me… Why are you critiquing their grammar anyways?

          • Jose

            That is because it was edited to be corrected. The only reason I mentioned it was because Charlie noticed it, but Mike said it wasn’t from their part of the story, but it was. I was just trying to be helpful…

            • whozat

              Then email the author…it comes across as kinda jerky to call these guys (who don’t get paid to do this) out publicly for niggling crap like this.

              • John

                I think they make a little, and I agree to an extent. Ben makes A LOT of mistakes. I wouldn’t have brought it up had this subject not been broached, but I notice typos, especially in Ben’s work. Proof-reading is important.

                • Steve in PDX

                  If you don’t like it, don’t read it. And while on the topic of good writing, please do not put entire words in caps. It is annoying, immature and unprofessional. And proofreading is one word. Just sayin’.

      • Tom Zig

        Isn’t the rule to e-mail corrections to the post author?

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Yes. Anyone who has a problem with corrections should e-mail us. We’ve asked numerous times, and those pointing out the mistakes in this thread have seen those requests.

          • Jose

            I apologize Ben. I wasn’t aware of that rule.

          • John

            I get that they should be emailed Ben. That said, almost every one of your posts has at least one typo. Perhaps they should be better proofed.

            *I realize this sounds argumentative and jerky, but I just thought since others mentioned it, I would mention it.

            • Benjamin Kabak

              You’re really testing my patience. This isn’t open for discussion. If you see typos, email us. If you mention again in this thread, I’ll just delete the whole thing. If you care to discuss this, here isn’t the place. Feel free to email me. End of subject.

            • Sweet Dick Willie

              I get that they should be emailed Ben. That said,…

              This is like the people who post off-topic. “I know this is off topic, but…”

              Why don’t they just post the truth? “I know the rules, and I choose not to follow them.”

  • JobaWockeeZ

    I think it’ll be 150 at the least. We’ve seen with Joba that they are willing to stretch them out for as many innings as they can give.

    • whozat

      If that were true, they wouldn’t have done what they did with Joba last August/Sept, with the breaks and the short starts and all.

      Phil hasn’t thrown more than about 100 innings in years; I doubt they’ll let him get much past 150 unless they’re in the post-season again, and then I’d expect him to be in the pen.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        If that were true, they wouldn’t have done what they did with Joba last August/Sept, with the breaks and the short starts and all.

        Or they could have more easily shut him down for the entire season. I didn’t say they are disregarding inning totals, I’m saying that they won’t have much of a problem of maxing them out if need be.

  • pete

    I don’t know how much you can take from anybody saying it’s an open race – they would have absolutely no reason whatsoever to say anything other than that. I really hope Hughes goes to AAA, though. Or if joba stinks it up in ST, then he goes there. I just don’t like the thought of either of them going to the bullpen. It’s just too difficult to do it right.

  • TheZack

    The key still remains getting Phil close to that 140 innings. I think we can all pretty much agree that the likelihood of Hughes getting to 150 IP is pretty slim with how the team is probably going to use him. It would shock me if, assuming Joba wins the 5th starter spot, Hughes goes anywhere but the BP and does anything but 1-2 inning stints max, getting him around 110 IP yet again.

    I don’t see how its not in the best interest of the team this year and beyond to maximize the # of innings for their best pitchers, and if Hughes is one of the best relievers, why not work to get him as many IP as possible, thereby also benefiting his longterm development and the ability of the team to get younger in the SP.

    • camilo Gerardo

      i will be a little peeved as well if/when Hughes does not become 5th starter and is made a set up man again. It seems joba demonstrated the physical pitfalls of the dangers found in converting a starter into a reliever and back into a starter, but whadayou gonnado, no?

  • steve s

    As always Ben, thanks for the link.

  • DaveinMD

    I really hope Hughes starts the year in AAA if he doesn’t win the 5th starter job. He needs to build up the innings. If no injuries occur in the rotation by June, then you bring him up to pitch out of the pen.

  • Mattchu12

    This is something that has worried me since acquiring Javier Vazquez. Putting either of them in the bullpen is the wrong way to go, because we’re going to set one of them back by doing so. The loser really should go to the Minor Leagues, but who here wants to see that? I know I don’t. I almost want to go with a six man rotation to keep them both in the rotation, but that’s not about to happen.

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