April 15, 2010

What happens if Hughes gets shelled?

It wouldn't be the end of the world for Phil Hughes if he doesn't make it out of the first inning tonight against the Angels in the series finale, but what happens if he continues to get rocked? How many starts does he get before being switched back to the bullpen? Who replaces him?

Those are the questions I'm wondering about. Those who follow my blog know I've been a supporter of Hughes in the rotation and Joba Chamberlain as the future heir to Mariano Rivera. But, in the unlikely event that I was wrong about Hughes fitting in the rotation as a starter, the Yankees will have to be prepared with backup plans.

Is it as simple as just swapping Chamberlain and Hughes? I don't think so. I don't think the Yankees can afford to make any more mid-season switches with Chamberlain. That being said, this leaves two candidates to replace Hughes: Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre.

Between the two I sway toward Meat-tray, and that's mainly because he has more experience as a starter. I think Aceves is too valuable out of the bullpen to move him. Last year the Yankees gave him a spot start on July 9 against the Twins and nothing good came from it.

Mitre's numbers in the past might be a little ugly, but he did have a good spring and he wasn't awful in his only appearance of this season against the Rays.

So how short of a leash will Joe Girardi have on Hughes? That's uncertain. After facing the Halos tonight, I project he'll make starts against the Athletics and the Orioles - two of the weakest offenses this season. If he can't make it past the fifth inning in any of his first three games, I say it's time to call on Mitre.

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