Phil Hughes’ back stiffness was bad enough to force him out his Game 3 start after just three innings, but the right-hander now feels good enough that he could be available out of the Yankees’ bullpen tonight.
Hughes told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that he could have remained in the game beyond three innings Tuesday, but manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild both felt that his delivery was out of whack and his breaking pitches weren’t effective.
Whether one day off is enough to fix those issues and whether Girardi and Rothschild would trust Hughes in a key late-inning spot is unclear, but if the Yankees need an extra arm out of the bullpen he might be a factor.
We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.
McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.
Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.
The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.