When the season started the Yankees didn’t give Bartolo Colon a job as a starter despite a strong spring training because they simply didn’t trust him in the rotation. Phil Hughes was supposed to be one of the starters the Yankees did trust.
The way the season has played out, Hughes has been the one who couldn’t be trusted with a starting role, but luckily Colon has bailed the team out. He has become a caddy, coming in for relief in each of Hughes’ three starts. He’s pitched pretty well putting up a 3.97 ERA and managing to salvage at least one game despite Hughes’ 13.94 ERA.
Now the Yankees are faced with a decision. Should they keep Hughes in the rotation despite his extremely poor performance? Just skip over him once or twice? Send him to the bullpen? Or send him to the minors?
Personally I like the idea of just switching Hughes and Colon’s roles. Have Colon start games and limit him to four or five innings and then bring in Hughes. This keeps Colon’s appearances short in order and saves some of the few bullets still left in his chamber. At the same time it still gives Hughes enough innings to work through his issues.
It also gives the Yankees offense a chance to build up a lead for Hughes. Maybe if he comes in with a 6-2 lead, for instance, he’ll be more comfortable and able to focus better and just let his skills take over instead of forcing things. It also gives the Yankees a chance to give Hughes a quick hook if he should be ineffective without the fear of blowing out the bullpen.
This isn’t the ideal situation, but it seems better than the alternatives to me. For one, they are not going to send Hughes down to the minors at this point in his career. Maybe if things don’t get better for a long time you consider that down the road, but at this point there is no chance in that happening.
Sending him to bullpen to be a short reliever also doesn’t have much appeal because of the depth of this bullpen. He’d be relegated to mop up duty and would hardly get a chance to pitch at all. At this point that seems to be what he needs, to pitch through his problems. It is also the reason why I don’t like just skipping him once or twice. Although if they don’t just swap Hughes and Colon, skipping him once or twice is probably the next best alternative.
What do you think? How should the Yankees handle this situation with Hughes?