How can the Yankees continue to throw him out every 5 days and compete for a playoff spot? He's been nothing short of awful since the All-Star break. What's worse is the fact that the Yankees beat writers, specifically Mark Feinsand and Sweeney Murti, of NY Daily News and WFAN, defend this guy like he's Felix Hernandez!
I'm going make the basic case to replace Phil Hughes with David Huff, who has pitched 8 straight shutout innings of relief in his last 2 appearances. Huff's track record as an MLB starter is not particularly great, but he's pitching better now. Here's the goop:
(Stats via ESPN and Baseball Reference)
He's being hit hard by batters on both sides of the plate: .278 BA by righties and .293 by lefties. Further splits do not help his cause.
Hughes Pre/Post AS Break: 4.57 ERA (roughly a quality start of 6 innings/3 earned runs)/5.94 ERA after the break. A nearly 6.00 ERA since Mid-July. Awful. If that's not enough, he's getting worse as it goes. He has a 6.46 ERA in August. What's next, a 7.26 ERA in September?
September is exclusively against AL East rivals. With that in mind, the Yankees need to be conscious about playing their counterparts. Hughes' ERA against the AL East teams?
Tampa Bay: 5.73
Outside Toronto, not inspiring. What is inspiring? Replacing him with David Huff
Huff's last two appearances out of the bullpen:
5 innings/1 hit/0 runs/2 K's
3 1/3 innings/0 hits/0 runs/5 K's
His career stats do not scream anything special, either. As a starter, his career ERA is 5.41. Whereas out of the pen, he's got a 2.89 ERA. Reportedly, though, Huff had altered his throwing motion in the minors, which may have led to being more effective since his recall a few weeks back. Plus, he's left-handed. Anything you can take is a leg up on the competition. Using a lefty helps nearly automatically. Look at some top AL East hitters:
Chris Davis against lefties: .247 vs. .334 against righties.
David Ortiz against lefties: .265 vs. .350 against righties.
Edwin Encarnacion against lefties: .264 vs. .276 against righties.
Ben Zobrist against lefties: .239 vs. .287 against righties.
I'm not going to claim he's going to be Clayton Kershaw. But, I'll take Andy Pettitte at this point. A quality start = 4.50 ERA, which is an improvement. If Huff can even manage that, or somewhere around 3.80 or 4.00 ERA, he's got himself a rotation spot.
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