Hughes, Nova, Phelps: Who goes and who stays in the Yankees rotation?


Let me get this out of the way real quickly, Brian Cashman came right out and said that Ivan Nova is not a threat to Phil Hughes‘ spot in the Yankees rotation.

So even after he pitched a strong game on Sunday, Nova is not taking Hughes’ spot from him and with 13 pitchers on the roster there is a decent chance that he gets sent down before Tuesday night’s game. That doesn’t mean they don’t have other options though and it doesn’t mean that demoting Nova is necessarily the best one.

Nova’s last start was impressive. He tossed 6.2 innings, was charged with three runs, but would have gotten away with just one if Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan were their usual selves on Sunday. Nova had good stuff that day too with an impressive curveball. It got everyone remembering the pitcher we saw back in 2011 that got us all excited.

It’s important to remember though that for the last year and a half, he has been decidedly mediocre. With a 5.00 ERA in 35 starts, hitters have been teeing off against him to the tune of a .294/.358/.493 line. So even though Phil Hughes has struggled recently, he has a 5.09 ERA in 14 starts this year, he’s not necessarily better.

Phelps has been better with a 3.63 ERA, a solid 7.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9, and he has kept the ball in the ballpark, something that Nova and Hughes struggle to do. The problem is that this is just 10 starts and its only his sophomore season. We can’t say for certain that he’ll continue this success over the long haul. Removing either Nova or Hughes in favor of him, you could argue, might not be the best move either.

Which is why I’d like to see the Yankees got to a six-man rotation. Not long term, but for a couple of weeks at least and maybe until the All-Star break.

This would do a couple of things. First, it would give the Yankees more time to see Ivan Nova. Maybe he did make some good adjustments while he was in the minor leagues. One start means nothing, but with three or four we’ll start to see who the real Nova is. And if you remember back to 2011 when he went on a nice run it was after a short stint in the minors.

It would also give Hughes a few more starts to save himself. Now I don’t think he’s ever going to be anything exceptional, but he is better than he’s shown recently. Just look back at his numbers early on this season — from mid-April to early-May he was the best starter on the team with a 1.93 ERA in four starts while he held batters to a crazy low .225/.259/.333 line. He doesn’t deserve to have his rotation spot ripped from him just yet. A couple weeks of competition would be fair.

Evaluating Phelps some more would be nice. He’s been solid over his first 10 starts this year, , and if he can show more consistency than both Hughes and Nova over the next two or three weeks then he probably deserves to stay in the rotation over them.

Finally, there is no reason CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte couldn’t use a little bit more of a rest. Going to a six-man rotation over a few weeks wouldn’t be a ton more rest, but it would be slightly and they’d still be pitching enough to stay sharp as opposed to just skipping them every now and then.

So that’s what I hope the Yankees do — go to a six-man rotation for a few weeks. Of course, things will get real interesting at that point because Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno will probably both be ready to come off the disabled list. So even if both Nova and Hughes prove not to be up to the challenge the Yankees could go right into another competition.


• Despite David Adams‘ extreme struggles lately, Joe Girardi said he is going to keep playing him everyday at third base. Unless there is a trade, the Yankees don’t have any other choice until Alex Rodriguez comes back anyway. By the way, Adams actually walked twice on Saturday. It wouldn’t be a big deal except the normally patient hitter went 86 plate appearances in the majors without one.

• Reid Brignac has cleared waivers, but has yet to accept an assignment to Triple-A or declare himself a free agent.

• First round draft pick, 26th overall, Eric Jagielo is expected to return to action in about a week.

• Outfielder Ravel Santana, who was once a decent prospect in the Yankees system before a nasty ankle injury cost him nearly two years, is done for the year after he broke his forearm two weeks ago.

• Get ready to hear all about Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. He’s 26-years-old, hasn’t pitched in two years due to a suspension after he tried to defect, he’s just been declared a free agent, and is not subject to MLB’s international free agent signing restrictions because of his age.

• The Yankees offensive struggles have gotten so bad that even John Sterling is becoming pessimistic.

Photo credit: (June 11, 2013 – Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America).

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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One Response to Hughes, Nova, Phelps: Who goes and who stays in the Yankees rotation?

  1. Tanned Tom says:

    Hughes totally deserves to lose his rotation spot. He has been a significant disappointment over the years, is mired in a horrendous run since that hot start, and will not be brought back next year. I also think they will go to a 6 man group until Pineda is back, but then the chips will fall. Hughes puts together a good start or two and it's makes it easier to ship him. Minimum he goes to the pen and they trade Chamberlain. But I say trade both, and I don't care if we need to sell real low.

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