The inclination is to think of David Huff as untested and unknown, as some kid who’s never been here and never done this. Huff is getting the start this afternoon — another huge game against the Red Sox — and it will be only the sixth time he’s pitched in a big league game for the Yankees.
Never mind that he’s 29 years old and this will be his 53rd Major League start, this is a new sort of proving ground for a Yankees team that needs a win.
“(I am) about as confident as I’m going to be,” Huff said. “… I stick to what I’m good at, and that’s throwing strikes and being aggressive with the hitters.”
Huff was a first-round pick in 2006, a major league rookie in 2009, and until this year he was best known at Yankee Stadium as the guy Alex Rodriguez hit in the head with a line drive back in 2010. Huff’s career has been pretty uneven since then — a lot of time in the minors, the Indians decided to DFA him this season — but ultimately he’s had a 3.74 ERA in in 96.1 Major League innings the past three seasons. When the Yankees claimed him off waivers in May, Huff made a minor mechanical adjustment, pitched well as a Triple-A starter and got a call-up back to the big leagues. He has a 0.60 ERA with six hits, five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 innings since rejoining the Yankees. Only one of those walks and eight of those strikeouts have come in his past three appearances.
“(Joe Girardi) was like, you’re starting Saturday; don’t change a thing,” Huff said. “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
Obviously things are different on a day like today — different situation, different atmosphere, different pressure — but the question with Huff isn’t whether he can adjust to something different, it’s whether he can be the best version of something he’s been in the past.
He’s been pitching well. The Yankees need that to continue.
Associated Press photo