As the New York Yankees head into the final month of the season, Joe Girardi must make the decision that he has been putting off. There’s no way around it, if the Yankees are going to have their best chance to make the playoffs, it is time to drop Phil Hughes from the starting rotation.
Yes, I know that his last few starts have shown a slight improvement. He has given up 12 earned runs total, but that is misleading. Those 12 runs came in only 21 innings of work. That means he was on the mound for just over five innings an outing. That doesn’t bode well for the bullpen or the post-season, when he is likely to encounter some heavy bats.
In those 21 innings, he has allowed 27 hits. His walk total is respectable at six. But that works out to 33 base runners altogether. That’s especially nerve- racking when you consider a home run ball is always lurking around the corner with Hughes. Opponents have gone yard on him 23 times this year.
So who should take his place? Pending a possible return by Michael Pineda, my vote goes to David Huff, for a number of reasons. First, Huff has had recent success. He threw 3.1 scoreless innings Monday night, holding the Blue Jays hitless with five strikeouts. In his last four appearances he has given up one earned run in 9.2 innings.
Plus, an extra left-hander in the rotation could pay dividends since the Rays, Orioles and Red Sox all have some potent left handed bats. Granted, Girardi could keep him in the bullpen to face them in critical situations, but the ineffectiveness of Hughes warrants the move. Who would you rather have out there to face David Ortiz three or four times, Hughes or Huff?
Sadly, the Hughes era with the Yankees must come to an end. He left the minor leagues with so much potential. He had wonderful years in 2009 and 2010. But there just is too little margin for error at this point. Whether it’s for Huff or Pineda, the time has come for Girardi to bring the hook for good.