Tonight was supposed to be a Phil Hughes start. It would have been his 29th of the season, his next-to-last before the playoffs, but Hughes was instead pushed back one last time to further limit his workload.
The Yankees still haven’t given a number, but it seems pretty obvious Hughes entered the season limited to roughly 175 innings. He’ll reach that number with 5.2 innings on Wednesday.
“It’s something I can’t really fight whether I’m used to it or not,” Hughes said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with going out on the field and making pitches.”
Hughes will make his final regular-season start on seven days rest. He’ll make his first playoff start after at least that many days off.
“Mentally figuring out how to handle it (is the important thing),” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “Pitchers, especially starters, they’re creatures of habit. If they get knocked off their routine just a little bit, it kind of messes with them mentally.”
Hughes seemed to adjust to the extra days off the last time he was skipped. He went 10 days between starts earlier this month but did some extra work — including an inning of relief work — in between. Maybe that’s what made the difference. Maybe Hughes was simply used to the rest. Or maybe his stuff was simply better that day than in his previous extra-rest starts.
“It was probably just coincidental,” Hughes said. “I try not to put too much stock into extra rest or things like that. The fact I pitched better after the second time I was skipped than the first time I would say was just a matter of making better pitches and not necessarily the rest having affected me.”
Here’s Hughes talking before yesterday’s game.
Associated Press photo of Hughes.