The Yankees have three more games remaining this season which would be a good opportunity for them to run starter Phil Hughes out there to test his back, but instead it appears that he will be relegated to bullpen duty, if he pitches at all.
They have not announced Wednesday’s starter yet, but it won’t be Hughes, it could be just a way to get him some innings in relief before the playoffs or it could be that his back isn’t strong enough to make a start.
The Yankees have a bad history when it comes to starters dealing with back issues in the playoffs.
In 2003 David Wells pitched in the World Series and hid the fact that he was dealing with severe back pain. He lasted just one inning as the Yankees lost the game and eventually the series.
There was also Randy Johnson in 2006 who admitted after a loss to Detroit that his bad back should have kept him out of the game. He ended up getting lit up for five runs over 5.2 innings as the Yankees lost the game and eventually the series.
The fact that Hughes did not pitch in relief in last night’s 14 inning game and is not getting a start over the final three games makes me feel like his back injury is worse than they are letting on. He is in the bullpen now, but it seems like he could be off the roster entirely for the playoffs.