When Alex Rodriguez went deep in the 7th inning of last night’s game, most Yankees fans were already planning the next two innings. Coke for Ellsbury, then Hughes to finish the 8th, and Mariano for the 9th. When Coke was left in to face a righty in Pedroia, then a switch hitter in Martinez, and then two more righties in Youkilis and Bay, most of us were dumbfounded. Where was Hughes?
Here is what Joe Girardi had to say:
“He was off today,” Girardi said of Hughes, who has dominated as Mariano Rivera’s set up man and had thrown a total of nine pitches Friday and Saturday. “I don’t like using any of our pitchers three days in a row. You risk hurting them.”
Although Hughes had only thrown 9 pitches over the last two days, the Yankees were not going to let him warm up and enter the game for the third straight day. Pitching last night would have been the 5th appearance in 6 days, a definite no-no, no matter what the situation. As Pete Abraham stated:
Whether you agree with that or not — and I’m not sure I do given that he had thrown a grand total of eight pitches in the two previous days — you have to admire Joe Girardi’s willingness to stick by his standards.
People used to complain about Joe Torre abusing relievers. This is the price you pay, getting the Phil Cokes of the world in a big spot.
The manager cannot treat every game like Game 7 of a playoff series. He needs to be careful with Phil Hughes, as keeping him healthy is vital to the well being of this Yankee team. Joe Girardi made the right move in not using Hughes. Now, with Hughes, Robertson, and Aceves not available, and Chad Gaudin being held in reserve, the other option would have been Brian Bruney. However, Coke actually has better numbers against righties than Bruney so far this season, and keeping Victor Martinez pointed toward the large part of the ballpark is good strategy. At the time, I hated the move. However, after being made aware of all the variables, it seems clear that Girardi made the right decision, and it just did not work out as he hoped.