Yankees making plans for the 'Phil Hughes Rules'

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Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reports that the Yankees are making plans to implement the “Phil Hughes Rules” to limit the 24-year-old right-hander’s workload in his first full season as a starter.
Hughes has been fantastic, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts, but according to Marchand the Yankees will likely take advantage of June’s many off days to give him extra rest between most starts.
Marchand surmises that the goal is to keep him under 175 innings for the year, which would be far less extreme than the previous “Joba Rules” given that Hughes is only on pace for about 185 innings right now (with his next start tonight against the Indians).
Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland both sidestepped questions about Hughes’ workload, but general manager Brian Cashman explained: “That’s all up to Joe and Dave. They know just like last year with Joba what the limits are. We have pitching programs that are all based on things that have happened in recent history and past history.”
Joba Chamberlain threw 157.1 innings last season while starting 31 times and appearing out of the bullpen once, but in addition to the Yankees’ plan for his usage ineffectiveness also helped keep his workload down. Hughes is currently on pace to throw about 10 percent more pitches and log about 15 percent more innings than Chamberlain did as a 23-year-old.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.