In Hughes’ case, well, we all know this story by now. After winning 18 games and cracking the playoff rotation last year many of us were hoping Hughes would finally emerge as the front of the rotation starter he was projected to be as a prospect. Alas, a mysterious arm injury claimed the first half of Hughes’ season, and he’s been something of a train wreck before returning from the disabled list last month. His start last night was a solid one and probably gives him a boost in this competition, but he still didn’t miss many bats with his fastball, a potential reason for concern.
Thankfully the fact that the Yankees are a near lock to make the postseason makes this a relatively low stakes decision. They can pretty much go with either pitcher, or stick with a 6 man rotation for awhile longer, without much concern. There are good arguments on all sides, but personally I think I’d stick with the 6 man rotation a little bit longer. This way, Hughes and Nova can both continue to get innings in the big league rotation, and Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia can get some extra rest.
But if a 6-man rotation is out of the question, I’d prefer to see Hughes stick in the rotation. The strong postseason odds make the consequences of a disastrous start much lower, and because of that I’d rather see the Yankees bank of the larger upside Hughes offers over Nova. Nova might be a solid back end starter, but Hughes has the potential to be more of a number 2 or 3 starter if he can get all the way back. He’s been pretty solid thus far since coming off of the DL, and seems to be getting better with each start. I say let him continue to try to work out the kinks in the rotation, and hopefully he’ll be a viable option to start in October.