MONDAY: Hughes clarified to Martino that his strong preference and intention is to remain in a starting role for many years.
THURSDAY: Phil Hughes hasn't made a relief appearance since 2011, but the Yankees right-hander told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he will be open-minded about a relief role this offseason when he hits free agency, depending on the offers. Asked if a relief role was off the table, he replied:
“No. I mean, I feel like pitching at this level is a blessing in any way. So if teams value me as a starter, that’s great. If not, and that’s their opinion, we’ll see what happens. We will see how it shakes out.”
Hughes, 27, entered play today with a 4.99 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and just a 29.2 percent ground-ball rate. Many feel that his success as a starter during the team's 2009 World Series run means he should be transferred to a bullpen role full-time. For his career, Hughes has a 1.44 ERA as a reliever and a 4.73 ERA as a starter, though that relief sample size is just 56 1/3 innings.
There's also a belief that Hughes — an extreme fly-ball pitcher — simply needs to escape the homer-friendly Yankee Stadium and move to a larger park. That's also understandable, as he's pitched to a 6.18 ERA with 16 homers in 62 2/3 home innings this season (2.3 HR/9) compared to a 3.67 ERA on the road with just six homers allowed on the road. Since moving back into the rotation full-time in 2010, Hughes has a 5.02 ERA and 5.10 FIP at Yankee Stadium. His road marks of 4.08 and 3.81 are much more respectable.