Chien-Ming Wang is still on tap for Sunday’s start, while Phil Hughes is the emergency starter for Friday if CC Sabathia’s bullpen does not go well today, according to Peter Abraham.
It seems the Wang-Hughes debate always rekindles after Wang’s start. Why? Maybe because Hughes has relieved Wang in each of his last three starts. Is this a coincidence, or is Girardi doing this on purpose to get a look at both pitchers against the same opponent?
Hughes has fully embraced his role in the bullpen — at least that’s what he has told the media — but it’s hard to ignore him pitching lights out after Wang gets knocked around a little. Hughes has struck out 14 men in 10-2/3 innings from the pen and his ERA stands at 1.69. His only two allowed runs came against the Red Sox and it was over 3-2/3 innings after Wang couldn’t finish the third frame.
The strikeout numbers really impress me, and I think that is the most convincing stat for Hughes’ case. However, I am still riding Wang’s bandwagon because of his potential. Wang’s line last night was nearly identical to his previous one against the Nationals.
The underlying difference: His most recent start against the Braves was completed in 62 pitches — 29 fewer than the start against the Nationals.
Wang was pulled when his turn in the order came up — yet another problem the NL has dealt Wang — and I think it was too early of a gamble on Joe Girardi’s part. Wang was on pace to throw eight innings, but didn’t get a chance to prove he could do it. Honestly, I’d say the importance of that start outweighs a struggling offense.
Hopefully Sabathia doesn’t feel anything funky in his left biceps today, and Hughes can continue to thrive in relief.