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With Hughes struggling, Yankees have options

Trio of hurlers could replace right-hander if New York opts for a change
06/20/2013 6:44 PM ET
By Doug Williams

Phil Hughes allowed five runs on 10 hits over six innings on Wednesday night.(AP)
After another rough start for Phil Hughes on Wednesday night, Joe Girardi and the Yankees must at least consider taking him out of the starting rotation, which might not be a bad thing for all involved.

As noted by YESNetwork.com's Lou DiPietro, Hughes has been incredibly inconsistent. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his seven quality starts this season. In the other seven, Hughes is 1-6 with an 10.93 ERA.

In total, Hughes has only three wins in 14 starts, and the Yankees have lost nine of those games. He has only one more win than Ivan Nova, who last started on April 26 and is currently in the Minor Leagues.

Some Yankees fans have begun calling for a trade. If the Yanks were offered some offensive help in return for Hughes, it could be an option worth looking into. But the Yankees would be better-served by keeping him.

Hughes could go straight to the bullpen, a role he embraced in 2009 when he helped lead the Yankees to the playoffs and eventually the World Series. Hughes sported a 1.40 ERA and 11.4 K/9 innings pitched ratio. His velocity out of the bullpen reached the high 90's and he quickly became the team's eighth-inning reliever. Although the Yankees' bullpen has been good this year, it could always use another arm like his.

As far as Hughes' replacement in the rotation, New York has options.

Nova has been back-and-forth between the Yankees and the Minors, but in his last outing with the Yanks, he tossed five innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts. And in the Minors, Nova is 2-0 in three starts with an ERA barely over two. His confidence could also improve knowing that the job is actually his, which has been a rarity during his career.

The second option is Adam Warren. He may not be the sexiest option, but he has pitched well in the Majors this year, mostly in long relief. Warren, who has an impressive 3.11 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, battles on the mound and mixes his pitches well.

And lastly, it's impossible to ignore Michael Pineda's impending comeback from shoulder surgery. Although Pineda may not be Major League-ready for a couple of weeks, his potential alone could be enough to take Hughes' spot. Pineda has been touching 95 mph while rehabbing in Tampa, Fla., as he works toward a return to the Majors -- and a return to his 2011 form. That year, Pineda won nine games for a bad Mariners team and posted a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings.

The Yankees are lucky to have three good options for potentially replacing Hughes. That, along with his current ineffectiveness, may be reason enough to change things up.

And the good news for Hughes? The bullpen has been his friend in the past. He's a guy that could easily turn a potential demotion into a positive for both himself and the team.

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