Sure, he’s a starter toiling in the bullpen right now, but given the depth of their rotation (especially with Wang making some improvements), I think Hughes should remain here at least until Joba hits his inning limits.
Not by coincidence, Hughes’ velocity has seen a jump since he moved to the bullpen, even though this wasn’t the original plan. Of course Hughes would prefer to stick in the big leagues — the pay, travel, everything is better; no one grows up dreaming of pitching in Triple-A — but even though relieving isn’t his first choice, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have been impressed by his open mind.
Let’s not forget that Hughes isn’t far removed from being touted as a top prospect, so we shouldn’t be completely stunned that he’s finding success. But, looking to cut off another Joba Chamberlain debate at the pass, the Yankees are making sure people know Hughes really is a starter masquerading as a reliever.
Joba should be a starter. For good. I also understand that the Yanks will try to cap his innings around the 150-175 mark. In other words, Joba’s pitched almost half his season already, having thrown 75.2 innings thus far this year, making 14 starts. So when Joba gets closer to 150 innings, I could see Hughes and Joba possibly swapping roles, allowing them to remain effective and fresh.
Of course, there are the playoffs, should they make it. I’d like to believe that Joba, assuming all else is the same, is the #3 starter in any playoff rotation. Does it make sense to remove Joba from the starting rotation in September, only to toss him back in it in October? Or just cap his innings on a game-by-game basis, stopping at 6 innings?