Phil Hughes Relegated to Bullpen in Playoffs

The New York Yankees have confirmed that they will be using pitcher Phil Hughes out of the bullpen during the playoffs.  Hughes’ time off in September due to back inflammation prompted the Yankees decision.

After winning 18 games in 2010, Hughes entered the season as one of the Yankees top starting pitchers.  However, early season ineffectiveness and injuries caused Hughes to miss significant time this summer, and the right-hander has been very inconsistent during the second half of the season.

As the end of the regular season approached, Hughes was fighting to retain his spot in the rotation.  After holding the Mariners to one run over six innings on the 12th of September, Hughes had his next start pushed back.

Hughes complained of back spasms and the injury was later diagnosed as inflammation.  At that point, Hughes was expected to make one more regular season start but his role in the postseason was unknown.

Since then, Hughes hasn’t started for the Yankees, and yesterday New York confirmed their decision to use the 25-year-old out of the pen come October.

While certainly disappointed not to be in the Yankees playoff rotation, at this point Hughes is just happy he can contribute in any capacity.  It’s been a rough year for the righty, as Hughes has maintained a 6.00 ERA over his 72 innings of work.

Primarily a starter during his time in the Majors, Hughes did exhibit an ability to work out of the pen for the Yankees in 2009.  That year, Hughes held an ERA and WHIP of 1.40 and 0.857 over his 44 appearances as a reliever.  Hughes struck out 65 in his 51.1 innings of work, holding opposing hitters to an OPS of .456.

That season Hughes was used as a late inning reliever, but with Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson in the mix, there isn’t much room remaining in the back end of the Yankees pen.

This postseason, New York is more likely to use Hughes in the same manner as they did during Monday night’s game.  Last night, with New York’s starter lasting only two innings, Hughes was called upon to mop things up in the fifth and sixth.

For more on the Yankees, be sure to check out Yanks Go Yard.

Topics: David Robertson, Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees, Phil Hughes, Rafael Soriano

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