Now that New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn't acquire any new arms before the trade deadline and we can finally put those Andy Pettitte un-retiring rumors to rest, manager Joe Girardi has to figure out what to do with the six starting pitchers he has left. His dilemma, who is the odd man out after he whittles his rotation down to five--the dead arm of Phil Hughes or the hot hand of Ivan Nova?
"We just talked about tweaking our rotation a little bit. Do you give guys an extra days rest?" was Girardi's rhetorical question.
Girardi hasn't made any decisions, but it is a sure bet he won't be going with a six-man rotation. That scenario wouldn't bode well with CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett-- who both prefer to pitch on normal rest and what the ace CC wants, he's going to get.
Girardi seemed defensive when asked about Hughes' 1-3, 8.14 ERA this season since returning from the DL for an inflammation of his right shoulder. Hughes fastball has hovered around the 92-93 mph since coming back.
"You're evaluating [Hughes] on his last three or four starts," Girardi said. "We believe this guy still has a huge upside; he won 18 games last year, and we want to see him continue to progress. How many guys won 18 games last year? Not too many. We have to continue to evaluate him, if we think he's going in the right direction."
There's a lot wrong with that statement. Maybe Girardi is waiting for Doc Brown to pull up with the "Back to the Future" DeLorean.
First, Girardi can't live in the past and, has to put a lot of consideration on who stays in the current rotation on a pitcher's last few starts. Secondly, Nova still has the slight chance of winning 18 games this season, even with time spent on the DL. Hmm...let's see, 18 W's last year or 18 this season?
"That's a decision I don't make," he said. "Of course, I want to be here."
If Hughes pitches lights-out on Tuesday, Nova could be going back down to the minors. Girardi indicated it would be "a natural move" to send down but would weigh other options.
Now if Hughes gets rocked, it would leave Girardi no choice but to demote Hughes to work things out. The only rationale for keeping a struggling Hughes in the rotation is if either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia gets injured or falter badly and that doesn't look like it's going to happen.
For now, Girardi is standing by Hughes.
"We'll talk about this after Sunday," said Girardi. "His stuff in his last [start] was closer to where it was last year. I'm not ready just to throw away what he did last year."
It looks like we should have some answers after the road trip to Chicago.