New York Yankees fourth starter Phil Hughes is one of the many players in pinstripes nursing an injury. Three weeks ago, the right-hander suffered a bulging disk injury. Hughes has a history of back woes, as he was forced to leave Game Three of last year’s American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers with a stiff back. He was able to throw off a mount during a bullpen session yesterday, easing any longterm concerns but it it yet unknown if he will be ready by Opening Day. Even if he isn’t, fifth starter candidates Ivan Nova and David Phelps have shown this spring they will be able to carry the load for the back of the Yankees rotation.
So far this spring, Phelps has been the Yankees best starter. In four starts so far, the right-hander has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings pitched for a 0.64 ERA. He’s allowed 10 hits and walked three for a 0.93 WHIP. Last season as a rookie, he posted a 3.34 ERA in 99.2 innings pitched working as both a reliever and starter. As a starter, he pitched in 11 games, posting a 3.77 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched.
As for Nova, he’s done his best to keep up with Phelps. After his third start today, Nova has allowed just one earned run in nine innings pitched. He’s allowed just eight hits and walked one. Nova is trying to bounce back from a rough 2012 season when he posted a 5.02 ERA in 28 starts after a stellar rookie campaign in 2011 when he had a 16-4 win-loss record and a 3.70 ERA in 27 starts and 28 appearances.
Even if Hughes is ready for Opening Day, Nova and Phelps have proven that the Yankees have more pitching depth than most believe. If an injury or trade were to happen with one of the Yankees rotation pitchers, they have the confidence in knowing they can have quality arms to take over a spot.