With Phil Hughes struggling mightily for the New York Yankees in 2013 and that is putting it kindly. Hughes has likely pitched his last for the Yankees this season as he is scheduled to hit the free agent market. Late in the season, Hughes was often pulled at the first sign of trouble in favor of David Huff and at one point was replaced by Huff in the rotation. The Yankees learned Hughes is not a part of the team’s future but they also learned Huff is not an option for the Yankee rotation in 2014.
It is hard to knock Huff and the effort he put forth this season for the Yankees but one thing is clear, there are better options in-house for the Yankees in the rotation. Prior to last night, Huff pitched in nine games, mostly in relief of Hughes, and went 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA, 17 strikeouts and a 0.96 WHIP in 26 innings.
As a reliever Huff was excellent. In 11 appearances as a reliever Huff featured a .193 batting average against, a 2.5 K/BB ratio and .579 OPS. In his one start he was rocked and had a .444 average against, gave up two of his five home runs allowed and had a 1.474 OPS against him.
Huff has never had much success as a starter prior to coming to the Yankees. Before this season, Huff spent parts of five years with the Cleveland Indians where 52 of his 58 appearances were as a starter. Huff sported a 5.40 ERA and 1.56 WHIP and allowed 11.0 H/9.
After watching Hughes take the mound for start after start with similar results Yankees fans were desperate for anything other than Hughes. That’s where Huff came in. After one solid relief appearance in which the Yankees won despite another poor start by Hughes Yankee fans started calling for Huff to be placed in the rotation.
That might have made some sense this season when every game counted down the stretch but Joe Girardi handled the situation properly. He gave Huff a chance but recognized Huff was far better as a fallback option for Hughes and he followed the correct path, much to the chagrin of Yankee fans. However, Hughes, who was once a top prospect and had some success as a starter for the Yankees in the past, was a much better option than Huff as a starter.
Next season, if the Yankees bring back Huff it should be as a potential long man out of the bullpen and not an option for the rotation. The Yankees would be much better off going with David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Brett Marshall or Adam Warren and, if Huff is someone they want back, as a potential long man or left-hander out of the pen.