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Yankees Should Start Ivan Nova Over Phil Hughes

Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

Tonight, Phil Hughes is making a crucial start for the Yankees as the Bombers are in Chicago for the 2nd game of a 4 game series against the White Sox.

Yanks manager Joe Girardi has decided to go with a 6-man rotation while he figures out what to do with Hughes and Ivan Nova.

I have a solution.

I think the Yanks should make Nova a starter and move Hughes to the bullpen.

Quite simply, I don’t trust Hughes.  Last year, he went 18-8 with 4.19 ERA but his ERA was over 5.00 in the 2nd half of the year.  Don’t be fooled by the 18 wins – Hughes had the best run support in baseball. AJ Burnett had 10 wins last year. What’s that tell you about the victories stat?

Hughes was also bad as a starter last year in the playoffs. In his two starts against the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, Hughes gave up eleven runs and 14 hits in 8.2 innings.

Right now, Hughes is sporting a 1-3 record with an 8.24 ERA for the season.  He hasn’t reached the 5th inning in 4 of his last 7 starts.  Since coming off the DL with “dead arm”, Hughes is 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four starts.  He looked good in one, looked below average in two others and just horrible in a 4th.  His command has been all over the place – nine walks and 13 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings.

The final nail in the coffin for me was last Wednesday. Hughes gave up only two runs but was tagged for nine hits by a Seattle team that is one of the worst hitting teams in baseball (in the modern era – literally). They are last in the AL in runs, hits, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.

Mike Stobe, Getty Images

Ivan Nova deserves a chance to start and shouldn’t keep getting jerked around any longer.

Nova certainly seems to belong in the rotation with a 9-4 record and a 4.01 ERA. He’s won five straight decisions.  Back in early July, he was sent to the minors to make room for Phil Hughes but was 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA (2nd on the club in wins) at the time.  He pitched well and still got sent down.  In fact, he was 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in his 6 starts prior to being shipped to AAA Scranton.

The decision to go with Nova over Hughes is also a feeling thing.  When Nova’s out there, I feel more comfortable than when Hughes is.  With Hughes you’re almost just waiting for him to implode.

I also don’t think Hughes has starter stuff.  Remember, his best moments came as a set-up reliever during the 2009 post-season – the Yankees World Series year.  I just don’t think he has the stamina to be a starter.  His velocity drops as he goes deeper into games.

The Yankees would be smart just to make the move at this point.  Ivan Nova as the starter and Hughes to the bullpen.

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