Apr
01

Hughes will skip first turn through the rotation

By

The spring checklist is all but complete. The team has decided on the batting order, the fifth starter, the bullpen, and the fifth outfielder. Last on the agenda is of when Phil Hughes will make his 2010 debut. The Yankees do not need a fifth starter until April 17, so they could have sent him to AAA to start the season, giving him a few starts before he’s called to action. That won’t be the case, though. Yesterday the team announced that Hughes will start April 15 against the Angels, picking up the fifth spot on the second turn through the rotation.

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP

Hughes won’t sit idly by, nor will he pitch out of the bullpen, during the season’s first 11 days. Instead he’ll pitch in two extended spring training games, one on April 5 and the other on April 10. As the name extended spring training implies, these will just be further tune-ups for Hughes. They’ll allow him to stay in shape without actually getting into a game. They also will not count against Hughes’s innings cap for the season, which is probably the draw of doing EST rather than minor leauge games. Furthermore, the Yankees need not use his one remaining option.

Here’s how the rotation will break down through Hughes’s first start:

2010 April Pitching

Date Pitcher Opp Rest
4/4 Sabathia @BOS N/A
4/6 Burnett @BOS N/A
4/7 Pettitte @BOS N/A
4/9 Vazquez @TB N/A
4/10 Sabathia @TB 5
4/11 Burnett @TB 4
4/13 Pettitte LAA 5
4/14 Vazquez LAA 4
4/15 Hughes LAA N/A

Unless there’s a non-Opening Day rainout, Pettitte will pitch the home opener on April 13. Slotting Hughes on the 15th not only makes sense in terms of his spot in the rotation (though rotation position hardly matters after the first turn through), but it gives the starters ample rest throughout the rest of the month. Here’s how April finishes:

Second half of April

Date Pitcher Opp Rest
4/16 Sabathia TEX 5
4/17 Burnett TEX 5
4/18 Pettitte TEX 4
4/20 Vazquez @OAK 5
4/21 Hughes @OAK 5
4/22 Sabathia @OAK 5
4/23 Burnett @LAA 5
4/24 Pettitte @LAA 5
4/25 Vazquez @LAA 4
4/27 Hughes @BAL 5
4/28 Sabathia @BAL 5
4/29 Burnett @BAL 5
4/30 Pettitte CWS 5

All but two starts come with five days’ rest, which fits with the Yankees’ plan to keep their guys rested after the long 2009 season and short off-season. It also means Hughes will pitch just three times in April, so by month’s end he’ll probably have somewhere between 15 and 20 innings. If his innings limit sits somewhere around 170, this gives him 150 or so innings for the season’s final five months. If he stays healthy, the Yankees might be able to manage that by giving him a long rest during the All-Star break and maybe skipping a start here and there later in the season. In other words, it should be much more manageable than Joba Chamberlain‘s situation in 2009.

The extra help should help the Yankees get through a packed May, too. Of the month’s 31 days, the Yankees will play on 29 — including a Memorial Day Matinee at home against the Indians. Essentially, this means that the staff will be on mostly five days’ rest through April before hitting the normal four days’ come May. Sounds like a plan to me.

Categories : Pitching

54 Comments»

  1. Steve H says:

    Wow, April’s a pretty brutal schedule. Nice to have that extra rest built in for CC/AJ/Andy. Only 4 guys going on normal rest for the month, and Javy has two of them. I’m liking how that’s set up.

  2. Accent Shallow says:

    While it’s good that they don’t have to burn the option just yet, he has to pass through waivers to go to the minors after April 26th or so, so why not option him?

    As it is, they’ll be playing with a 24-man roster for the first 8 games of the season. It’s a minor issue, but I think I’d rather see him in Tampa/Scranton than the Bronx if he’s not going to be pitching, and that’s one of the major advantages to having players with options — they don’t have to be on the MLB roster if they’re not being used.

    • A.D. says:

      Yeah, don’t really see the benefit in not sending him down.

    • I agree. I’d rather have Mark Melancon or Boone Logan (or Kevin Russo or Colin Curtis) on the club for those first two weeks rather than just leave the spot effectively empty with one of our 25 men on the roster chilling in Tampa.

      The team says they’re keeping Hughes on the roster “in case of emergency”. Well, if there’s an emergency, you call him up from the minor league assignment and option Melancon/Logan/Russo/Curtis down anyway, same difference. He’s still in Tampa regardless, so he’s not available even if “emergency” strikes until the next day anyway. If you really want him available in emergency situations, he needs to actually be traveling with the team, not waiting in Tampa.

      • radnom says:

        Yes, but it only takes one day to fly up from Tampa, it could take (up to) 10 days to recall him from the minors.

        Can minor leaguers pitch in extended spring training games?

        • radnom says:

          Apparently that 10 day buffer does not apply in cases of injury, so scratch that.

          I think the huge difference for the Yankees is that they want him pitching in ext. spring training as opposed to MiL games. Which makes sense. I just wonder if he can pitch in ext. spring training while being on the minors, in which case you might be better served with that extra bullpen arm on the 25 man instead of Hughes.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Chad Jennings answered this and it makes perfect sense:

      Why not option Hughes and carry an extra reliever?

      There will be nights when Hughes is available as an emergency, extra-innings reliever. “There’s a situation that could arise where you might need him to make a spot start, or you get rained out and they want to play a double header,” Girardi said. If Hughes were optioned, the Yankees would have to wait 10 days before calling him up (unless someone got hurt).

      • Thomas says:

        Question Do they have to wait for the start of the season to option him?

        IIRC, I don’t believe so (but I could be wrong). Thus, they could option him today and he could be brought back up on the 10th and would have only missed 4 games. Carrying this idea even further, I would assume the Yankees have had this plan of EXST for quite some time and thus, could have optioned him 10 days ago meaning he would be eligible to be called up at the start of the season in case of emergency.

        Of course, if I am wrong, this is all moot.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        “There’s a situation that could arise where you might need him to make a spot start, or you get rained out and they want to play a double header,”

        I don’t really buy this at all. So Sergio Mitre makes a start earlier than expected — not the end of the world. They could have easily optioned him early enough that he’d be eligible to be recalled by the 15th. Hell, they still could.

      • “There’s a situation that could arise where you might need him to make a spot start

        No, there’s not. Not unless someone gets hurt, in which case the 10 day rule doesn’t apply.

        “or you get rained out and they want to play a double header”

        With all the plentiful off days in April, and with the fact that it’s April and we’re going to have series with all these teams down the road, I’d say the chance of any of these games being rained out and made up during the same series as a doubleheader is about half of one percent. Teams hate scheduling doubleheaders, players hate scheduling doubleheaders. Not gonna happen, not in this April. I’m not buying that either.

  3. They also will not count against Hughes’s innings cap for the season, which is probably the draw of doing EXST rather than minor leauge games.

    Does that make sense, though? I mean, it’s not like his shoulder and elbow ligaments and biceps/triceps/forearm muscles are going to say, “Oh, these innings are EXST innings instead of AAA innings? Well, then, we’ll ignore any stress/endurance related effects they’ll have on us then, and we’ll just pretend like these innings never happened. They’ll have no effect on us whatsoever, so don’t bother counting them against any innings cap or restrictions you place on Phil; we’ll be fine.”

    An inning is an inning. Every pitch thrown counts.

  4. A.D. says:

    To be expected as they want save Hughes limited innings as much as possible….though not counting EXST seems odd.

  5. f his innings limit sits somewhere around 170, this gives him 150 or so innings for the season’s final five months. If he stays healthy, the Yankees might be able to manage that by giving him a long rest during the All-Star break and maybe skipping a start here and there later in the season. In other words, it should be much more manageable than Joba Chamberlain’s situation in 2009.

    Color me doubtful.

    (I’d suggest using either Raw Sienna, Antique Brass, or Sepia. All excellent choices.)

  6. Jake H says:

    I would like them to just give Hughes his innings then shut him down if they have a good lead. If he can get through August and get 170 innings or a week into September that in my mind is perfect. Give Ivan Nova or McAllister a shot in September.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I’d be very skeptical as to this happening, although the four guys ahead of him make it more likely. I’d imagine they’d want him to be available for a potential playoff run, either as the fifth starter or as setup man in the playoffs.

      • Jake H says:

        They won’t need a 5th starter in the playoffs and if the BP is a strength as they believe they shouldn’t need Hughes in there.

        • radnom says:


          and if the BP is a strength as they believe they shouldn’t need Hughes in there.

          Wrong. Hughes will be a better pitcher than the last guy out of the pen, no matter how good it is during the regular season. You take the best pitchers you have during the playoffs. Hughes has been with the team the last three years….you don’t just leave him off the playoff roster because you think you could win without him.

          • Jake H says:

            While I agree you want your best pitchers there is also a thing called planning for the future. You don’t want Hughes to get hurt next year because he over extended himself in September.

      • radnom says:

        Fifth starter in the playoffs?

        He will probably move back to the bullpen in the playoffs, remember Cashman said last year that innings limits go out the window after the regular season. I see him reaching 170 about midway through September…at which point the Yankees will have the division in hand (I hope).

        • Accent Shallow says:

          Should have said “fifth starter down the stretch, or as a setup man in the playoffs.”

          Or if someone goes down, he’s the fourth best starter in the org, no?

          • radnom says:

            Yes, and with the compressed playoff schedule they won’t be able to get by with three starters like they did last year.

            Heck, he has already started a playoff game in 2007.

            • Rick in Boston says:

              Hughes didn’t start Game 3 against the Indians, Rocket did. Phil came in during the 3rd inning. He also finished Game 1 after Wang, Ohlendorf and Veras gave up 11 through 6.

    • Bo says:

      Did you see what they did with Joba last yr and how they needed him in Oct? Why in the world would they shut him down?

      They need all their talented pitchers come Oct.

      These arent the Orioles who can shut a guy down in Aug.

      Have a lil faith in the Yankee FO

      • bexarama says:

        I do not understand you. You absolutely trash the Yankee FO when we say good things about it, generally. Then, when something comes up that we disagree on the Yankee FO on, whether we are right or wrong, you say we all need to have faith in the FO.

        • No, you understand him all too well.
          You described his M.O. perfectly.

          Though you left out the hit-and-run nature of his posts, where he rarely responds to responses to his posts; and his habit of posting responses hours after the original post, so his post will be the “final word”.

          And his little “bile bombs” original posts, which are very close to trolling.

          But apart from that, I think you understand him all too well.

  7. AJ says:

    So is Joba banished to the bullpen for good, or is this a wait and see if Hughes can hold this job?

  8. king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

    what would the impact and odds of a sixth starter actually being used towards the ASB? Let’s say jamming one extra guy in there for one or two starts not only avoids a regular or short rest start but skips one first half start altogether? would they ever try that knowing that we’re facing a weaker team and a weaker starter…just trot out Aceves or Meattray and hope Arod goes 4-4 with men on?

    • Steve H says:

      You had me until” hope Arod goes 4-4 with men on?

      We know that’s not happening…….

      I could see it depending on workload/record/injury situation at that point, but don’t think it’s anything they’d plan for now.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Either that, or juggle the rotation so the front four are going on four days rest for one or two turns.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        i was thinking not only to limit phranchise’s innings but to also keep the workload down for AJ and CC.

  9. pete says:

    “unless there’s a…rainout”

    what do you mean, unless? Boston is pretty much under water. There will be rainouts, have no doubt.

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