Could Phil Hughes nail down the No. 5 spot in the Yankees’ rotation with another solid outing on Sunday, when he is scheduled to relieve A.J. Burnett against the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field?
Maybe, maybe not, but the five-man audtion is winding down. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has indicated that the Yankees would live to name the fifth starter by Thursday or Friday of the upcoming week. That means one more appearance for the five candidates: Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin.
Of the five pitchers, Hughes has been the most consistent in the spring, pitching to a 2.08 ERA in his previous three outings. Of course, if Hughes does win the job, he likely would be limited to about 150 innings, similiar to the “Joba Rules” that were in place for Chamberlain in 2008 and 2009.
Aceves may have taken a step back Saturday after allow five runs in 4 1/3 innings in the Yankees’ 8-6 loss to the Astros, but is not out of the mix, according to Girardi.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he’s been, but he managed to get outs,” Girardi said. “You’re not always going to have great stuff, and you want to see guys manage to get outs.”
Meanwhile, Girardi seems to be giving Chamberlain every chance to secure the No. 5 spot. After an impressive outing against the Phillies on Wednesday – albeit against their “B’ lineup – the Yankees juggled their rotation so Joba would get another start against Philadelphia on Monday.
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