The New York Yankees rounded out their rotation today by naming Phil Hughes as the fifth starter. He joins a formidable Yankees rotation including C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Javier Vazquez. The decision also relegates Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen. (This article originally appeared at Unplucked Sports)
What does this all mean for your fantasy team?
From the perspective of fantasy baseball players, who are, no doubt, in the thick of drafting season, you may now want to put Hughes on your list of late-round sleeper picks.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that deeper and AL-only leagues invite Hughes into consideration, but anyone not in one of those leagues needs to spend a draft pick on this kid.
Being the fifth in a rotation makes a young pitcher vulnerable to the “last hire, first fired” mantra. Obviously, Hughes wouldn’t be fired, but if his play dips early on and he can’t string together decent outings, he’ll find himself pitching less innings.
Hughes made his own case by throwing 13 solid innings this spring, allowing 12 hits and striking out 10 batters. Chamberlain, on the other hand, coughed up 12 runs over 6 2/3 innings. He’ll likely slide into the 8th inning role to start the season.
Hughes still has some room for development. Over the past three seasons, he’s complied 192 innings. If he wants to remain in the Yankee rotation, he’ll throw close to that three year total in one season. That’s a lot of wear on a young arm that, as early as last season, was an 8th inning setup man.
Bottom line: Pick him up at your own risk, but don’t spend a draft pick on him. We’ve seen plenty of players hyped prior to the season only to see them fade into obscurity (or simply putting up lousy numbers).