The Yankees announced yesterday they are placing Chien-Ming Wang back into the starting rotation and sending Phil Hughes to the bullpen.
Most Yankee fans possessed enough foresight to see Wang coming back into the rotation, but I personally was surprised when Hughes was sent to the bullpen. The talks, as of late, had been to send Hughes down to AAA Scranton.
Wang's numbers do not make much of an argument for his return to the starting rotation, currently sitting at 0-3, with a 16.07 ERA and only nine strikeouts.
Hughes, on the other hand, was pitching very well as of late, showing his maturity and ability to win games. Hughes' numbers stack up to 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA, decent numbers for any fifth starter in a rotation.
The fact of the matter is, the Yankees are disregarding stats this time and putting faith in their once, two-time 19-win starter, Wang.
Wang's most notable stats came in 2006 and 2007, when he compiled an overall record of 38-13, with an average ERA of 3.66.
True, Wang has shown he can throw two-to-three good innings, with his fastball and sinker almost back to form, but the real question is: Can he go the entire game?
A meltdown like the one Wang had in the beginning of the season is not easily shaken off, and it is truly the great pitchers who are able to put that behind them and play well.
Wang has clearly earned the trust of the Yankees' organization, and despite his number, will get the start today against Texas.
When Wang returns to the rotation, I can see the rest of his season going one of two ways. He will either shake off the injury and the horrific beginning to the 2009 campaign, or he will give the Yankees a few good innings here and there, but ultimately not return to the prominence of seasons beforehand.
If Wang does not give the Yankees what they are looking for, I could see him getting dealt in a trade for a notable setup man, to a team that needs better starting pitching and is rebuilding. Hughes would then move back into the rotation and the Yankees would be one step closer to having a complete team.
Hughes handled this whole situation like a true teammate, ready to step into whatever role he needs to be in to get his team on the right track. According to Yankees.com, Hughes fully embraced his new position in the bullpen and is not complaining about being taken out of the rotation. Great move by Hughes, as he is always learning and has a bright future ahead of him.
Joe Girardi won't be afraid to use Hughes in the tough situations out of the bullpen as well, saying, "I am not afraid to use him in important innings."
Bottom line: The Yankees now have the potential to have another great starter back in the rotation, Wang, and a guy they know can get potentially the job done out of the bullpen in Hughes.
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