The Yankees will soon settle on a plan that will give starter Phil Hughes extra days off so that he will be able to stay within the innings and pitch limits the team has planned for him this season, according to a published report.
The plan, according to ESPNNewYork.com, could give the right-hander, who will turn 24 next month, close to two extra weeks of days off between now and July 20, when the Yankees are scheduled to play their fourth game following the July 12-15 All-Star break.
The Yankees have four scheduled days off in June and another five in July, including a four-day All-Star break and the Monday immediately following the break. That could enable them to give Hughes extra time off with perhaps only minor tinkering of the rotation. ESPNNewYork.com noted that because of the schedule, manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland could go without adjusting their rotation at all and still get Hughes a fifth day off in five of his next eight starts, including Friday's against the Indians in New York.
Then, they would likely start Hughes as many as four days prior to the All-Star break and schedule his first post-break start for July 20 or 21, giving him nearly two weeks off. Such a scenario would be similar to that which the Tigers used last season with rookie Rick Porcello, who was given 15 days off around the All-Star break. Porcello went 6-3 with a 3.76 ERA in the second half, after going 8-6 with a 4.14 ERA prior to the break.
"We'll get to that when we get to that," Eiland said.
Hughes, who was held back at the beginning of the season and did not make his first start until April 15, is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in eight outings. He has thrown 49 2/3 innings and made 840 pitches. The Yankees haven't said what his innings limit is, but ESPNNewYork.com noted that Hughes believes it is around 175.
In addition, the website calculated that if Hughes makes a total of 29 starts at his current rate of pitches, he would finish with 3,045 pitches. That would exceed Joba Chamberlain's total from last season by 310. It is believed that Hughes has a higher innings and pitch limit than Chamberlain did last year under the highly visible "Joba Rules."
"That is all up to Joe and Dave," general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com. "They know just like last year with Joba what the limits are."
The Yankees kept Chamberlain within an innings limit last season by putting him on strict pitch counts in August and September. But the results weren't desirable, as Chamberlain went 1-4 with an 8.05 ERA in his final nine starts.
The more important factor for Hughes will be pitches rather than innings, according to Eiland.
"Some innings are more stressful than others," Eiland said. "You can throw five innings and 100 pitches and it can really take its toll on you because you are really laboring through that or you can throw seven innings and 100 pitches. It is less pitches in an inning and you are not laboring as much. The more you have to labor, the more stress it puts on your arm."
Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.