Yesterday it was speculated that last night would be Phil Hughes’ last start and that, when the Yankees get off this six-man rotation thing, he’d be the odd man out, bullpen-bound.
Now what happens?
As we noted in the recaps, Hughes had a fine game. He shut out the White Sox over six innings, needing only 65 pitches, 48 of which were strikes. He hit 95 on the gun in the first inning and then settled into a 91-94 groove — averaging 92.5 — which is where he was during his effective 2010 season.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that Paul Konerko wasn’t in the White Sox’ lineup and, overall, the Sox have not been great on offense for the past week or so. Or, to be honest, for the whole year, really. They’re near the bottom in runs per game in the AL despite playing in a hitter friendly park.
Does he get another turn? Or does Joe Girardi take that first inning heat and decide that it’s highest and best use for the remainder of the year is for short relief appearances?
This is why managing is harder than we tend to think it is.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.