By Evan Brunell
The Yankees remain unsure whether Phil Hughes will rejoin the rotation or make a second rehab start, the New York Post reports.
"We are talking about a six-man rotation and talking about another rehab start," GM Brian Cashman said.
The Yankees are being extra cautious with Hughes, who saw his velocity disappear and got absolutely razed in three starts before mercifully going on the disabled list. Since then, Hughes has worked his way back and is currently firing his fastball around 93 mph, the average velocity of his heater over the last two seasons, so he's ready.
But Hughes has only made three rehab starts. While his numbers in those starts are promising with three runs allowed in 14 innings with an 18/5 K/BB ratio, you can understand why the Yankees might be hesitant. They have the luxury of doing so, as no one in the rotation is deserving of being yanked. Bartolo Colon was activated off the disabled list to start on Saturday while Freddy Garcia currently has the best ERA of his career. Even rookie Ivan Nova has gotten in on the fun, mystifying the Mets on Friday night to drop his ERA to 4.12.
If the Yankees do bring Hughes up and go to a six-man rotation, they will have to work around CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, who really should pitch every fifth day. Not only do these two pitchers appear to "thrive" pitching every fifth day, as the Post says, but they are the team's top two pitchers. You don't reduce the playing time of your two best pitchers.
Burnett, Sabathia and Nova are slated to take the hill in the Cleveland series that begins Monday, an arrangement manager Joe Girardi termed "probable."
"I don't mean to be a smart [aleck], but probable, it's probable," Girardi said. "That is not etched in stone. Maybe I change my mind. Every starter that ever goes out is a probable. I have the option of changing my mind. If you see their name in the lineup that day, it is definite."
One thing is for sure: Hughes will not go to the bullpen. Cashman ruled that out despite Hughes dominating as Mariano Rivera's setup man in 2009.
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