Do you think Phil Hughes should have gotten the call? The debate sweeps through Yankeeland, as two opposing sides butt heads on the issue. On one side are the “babyers.” They want to see him “learn” in the minors and keep his innings limited, thus reducing the risk of injury. On the other side are the “throwers.” They believe that pitchers should pitch, and that a guy like Phil Hughes has little, if anything, left to learn in the minors. Obviously, the three of us are “throwers.” Let’s start this argument from the top.
Igawa’s performance last night helps illustrate why calling up Phil Hughes is the smart move. If the Yankees really just needed a pitcher or two for a couple of spot starts in place of Moose and Pavano, fine. You expect them back soon (Mussina at least), and the rest of your rotation is fine. However, this is obviously not the case. Pavano might not be back for a very long time, and even when/if he does return, there is even less a chance that he helps the team. He needs to build endurance, and you don’t do that sitting on the DL with an elbow strain (which is what King Felix has, by the way).
Then you have Igawa, in whom I have a dwindling amount of faith. I did point out that he had pitched better in each of his starts against progressively better opponents. If that was real progress, he would have fared well against the Devil Rays last night. Alas, he had no control and continued to leave the ball up in the zone. At a time when the bullpen desperately needed a rest, Igawa did not deliver. And I’m not convinced that we’re going to see him pitch well in more than one out of six or seven outings. That won’t even cut it for a No. 5 starter.
So that’s 2/5 of the Opening Day rotation in question. If you’re looking to replace just a No. 5 starter, Karstens or Rasner might be able to fill in temporarily. However, the Yanks are replacing two No. 5 starters, and inserting both Karstens and Rasner will probably have damning results (it is, by the way, excruciating to sit through a Darrell Rasner start).
So what do you do in that situation? You insert your next best pitcher, which is Phil Hughes. Cashman may say that he’ll be up as long as Mussina is on the shelf, but I think we can distance ourselves from his PR-speak. The rotation stinks. It will probably get better with Wang now back and Moose about a week away. But then that leaves you with just three quality starters — surely not enough to overcome Boston. By adding Hughes to the mix, you now have a fourth quality starter. Add Clemens, and you have the best rotation in baseball, without question.