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As I am sure you all know, the Yankees announced today that Phil Hughes will be the 5th starter. I have discussed this at length and you know that I do not like it, so I would prefer to look past the prudence of the actual decision and look at one of the important details. Rob Neyer discussed the Yankees 5th starter situation yesterday, and the following statement stuck out:

Hughes threw 80 innings in 2008, 112 in 2009, and … 200 in 2010?

I don’t think so. The Yankees, reasonably enough, seem to have concluded that Hughes is the fifth-best starter in their organization. I suspect that they already have a reasonable plan to limit him to something like 160 innings this season. I just don’t know what that plan is.

Once again, the Yankee 5th starter is likely to have innings limits, but what will that limit be? I noted yesterday that the Yankees tend to use a pitcher’s previous career high as a baseline, and that Brian Cashman has said neither Joba nor Hughes would have a significant limit in 2010:

Based upon Cashman’s assertion that there will not be a significant cap on Phil’s innings, I would assume that the Yankees will be referring to his previous high as well, as he only threw 106 IP last season, leaving him near 145 for 2010 if the previous season was the baseline. However, his career high was 146 in 2006, meaning he may be allowed to exceed 180 innings.

The problem with this calculation is that Phil’s previous career high came in 2006. Let’s look at his IP numbers, courtesy of The Baseball Cube:

As you can see, Phil’s career high came in 2006, when he threw 146 innings. That is 4 seasons ago, and some have trouble believing that the Yankees are going to depend on that as a baseline for 2010. However, Marc Carig stated on Twitter that Hughes will have a higher limit than Joba did in 2009, when he threw 163.1 innings. I think it is more likely that the Yankees split the difference between a jump from 105 (2009) and 146 (2006) and give Phil about 165-170 innings, as Rob noted. If they do so, Phil will eventually scrape against that limit much as Joba did. Hopefully, they can figure out a way to handle that issue with more aplomb than they did last time. I would think that skipping two starts prior to the All-Star Break and two after the break would make the most sense, with those starts going to Joba or Aceves.

How would you deal with the innings limit?

16 Responses to “Hughes The 5th Starter, Hughes Rules Coming?”

  1. i think its pretty simple…if his innings limit is indeed in the 170-180 range (which i have concerns about)…you can skip him a few starts here and there. and that should be that. 170-180 innings is about where a typical #5 guy would be anyway.

    So it shouldn’t end up as this stupid game inside a game, where i take him out after 3 innings or anything of the sort. Atleast i hope not.  (Quote)

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  2. The best way is to limit his innings early in the season during April and May, remember what happened to Joba last year, he had a few very good outings after the allstar break and then they notice that his workload was to high and they messed with his timing in the middle of August finishing the year in not a good way.  (Quote)

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  3. I am very dissapointed that they are not giving Joba his shot. I really can’t say much more.  (Quote)

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  4. For me Aceves deserved the spot, he had only one bad outing. I know Hughes/Joba have more potential but Aceves is mature as a pitcher and can help the team this year as a starter.  (Quote)

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  5. Phil had a post season start in 06. He threw 5.1 innings so his total is 151.  (Quote)

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  6. At the outset, I didn’t think Hughes should be it — but he has won me over. Hope Joba can handle this emotionally. I still think that he can be very good but it is hard to argue with the fact that Hughes pitched better than Joba this Spring. That said, I agree that Ace probably pitched best but he wasn’t going to get this job unless both of the young guys blew up.  (Quote)

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    Efren Reply:

    You’re probably right, but why the whole competition between five guys if only two were seriusly considered for the job?  (Quote)

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    JD Reply:

    agreed. The whole “comp[etition” thing may end up having some negative effects. You don’t want fragile pitchers to feel like they were the “loser”.  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    Ace deserved it but you have to be reasonable; he pitched against Triple AAA guys and guys that were just warming up. I’m not disputing that he was good, and could be good. That said, his ceiling wasn’t as high as the others.

    Did Scott Proctor have a shot in the rotation? They told him to come in prepared to battle for a spot also. Ace would make a great trade candidate as he would be valuable as a starter to someone. There is something to be said for a Ramiro Mendoza type though. He worked out alright in a role similiar to Ace a few years back no?  (Quote)

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    Efren Reply:

    My only problem with the whole thin is that they never considered him as a candidate, why not be clear with the guy and tell him we like you, but you are not an everyday starter for us.

    Don’t get me wrong, but I think the yankees misshandle this situation.  (Quote)

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  7. I am disappointed for Joba. He does not deserve to lose his spot after what the organization has put him through the last several years. They bailed out on him way too early IMO. I’d rather have Joba sent down to AAA as a starter and get his confidence back and work on some things rather than wasting away as the 8th inning man like the way Boston handled Clay Buchholz last season.  (Quote)

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  8. I think the Yankees will be better this time with Hughes. I wanted Joba in the rotation and Phil in AAA. Now I want Joba to go there so he can come up and make a few spot starts for Phil or can replace Phil if he struggles.  (Quote)

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  9. I think the right guy won, but I think Hughes is going to make the better starter anyway. I just hope they don’t make a change if he gets off to a slow start.  (Quote)

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  10. The best way to handle the situation in my opinion would be to forego a strict five man rotation. Rather have 1-4 pitch every 5th day with Hughes’ # 5 spot bypassed when off days occur. In that way, 1-4 would have about 34 starts apiece- 136 total- with # 5 spot taking the remaining 26. The Braves followed a similar formula for years, albeit for different reasons, when they had Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz atop the starting staff.By employing the starters in this way, they would have the advantage oof keeping Hughes fresh throughout th year without bumping against any inning limit -6i nnings x 26 = 156 innings for the year- while still having him in position to pitch in the playoffs in whatever role serves the team best.
    Key difference between Joba 2009 and Hughes 2010: Once Wang went down , Joba became the 4th starter with whomever filling five, not allowing the team the luxury of skipping him ; in 2010 , presumably Vasquez makes those starts for whomever allowing the club to use Hughes more judiciously throughout the year.  (Quote)

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  11. I don’t think the decision to make Hughes the starter is a bad idea. The bad idea is moving Joba back to the pen. As I have said, over and over, they should have dealt one when they had top value if this is what they were eventually going to do. Joba is the same pitcher they wouldn’t deal one for one to the Twins for the Santana. Once they got Javier Vasquez they should have either moved one of these guys in a trade or decided one would prepare in the minors. Yes, they have nothing left to learn there, but the idea of being stretched out is what’s intriguing. The other thing would be to pitch Joba every fifth day out of the pen from inning 6 through nine, regardless of score. Although this isn’t ideal, it at least allows him the ability to transition easily to the rotation.  (Quote)

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  12. The innings limit is short-hand for limiting the stress on a young pitcher who has not hardened yet thru repetition. Jon Lester was jumped from 60 innings to 200: maybe the future will prove the Sox imprudent, or maybe he didn’t overstress, didn’t struggle. He pitched even better last year, another 200 innings.

    The best tool would count the stressful pitches, where tendons stretch and fray. Joe Nathan did not pitch too many innings. Since there is no stressomometer, and since the goal is developing pitchers who know how to approach ML hitters effectively, leave it to those who understand. Hold mgmt feet to the fire if they abuse, but quit whining!  (Quote)

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