Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Eighth Inning

No this isn't a post about Joba. It actually has nothing to do with him. This is about me wondering why Brian Bruney is still be trusted with that critical inning while Phil Hughes gets mop up duty, cleaning up other guy's messes.

Bruney was a revelation back in April but since then has not been the anchor that we've been waiting for. As a result of his struggles his ERA has shot up to 3.94. His FIP is still low but not what it was a week or so ago. I'm hesitant to throw Bruney right into the fire immediately after returning from his injury.

Meanwhile Phil Hughes has been trending the opposite way. As a starter he has mixed results. Some great starts, others were mediocore, and he has that one awful one that caused his ERA to balloon. Since switching to the bullpen he's been nothing but great. His numbers are all solidly above average now. His K/BB is well over 2.00, his ERA is 4. 34, and his FIP is down to 4.43. Take out that one awful start and his numbers easily match Bruney's. Still, for whatever reason he's not being entrusted with key innings.

Their are some very strong arguments for moving Hughes back to AAA, chief among these is the argument that if he doesn't build up his innings total, his innings limit next year will prevent him from moving into the rotation for the whole year. I believe that its worth that small sacrifice to take advantage of his dominating pitching out of the bullpen right now. However, if he's not going to be trusted with big innings then why bother keeping him here?