Good morning Fackers. The mystery of just who would take Chien-Ming Wang's turn in the rotation on Thursday was answered before last night's game, as it was announced that Alfredo Aceves will start the Yankees' final regular season game at the Metrodome. Since Jonathan Albaladejo was recalled when Wang was DL'd, the Yanks will not be shorthanded in the pen over the next several days.
Our man Alf is the logical choice after the Yankees made it clear that Phil Hughes wasn't stretched out enough to start and announced that Sergio Mitre would make his scheduled start for Scranton last night. Aceves threw four innings of relief on Sunday, mostly out of necessity and certainly because of excellent performance, but perhaps also in part to get him stretched out a bit. He'll have a 65 pitch limit and should be good for about five innings Thursday.
The Yankees would be wise to follow Aceves with a multiple inning outing from Phil Hughes, building his arm strength, then take advantage of the upcoming three day All-Star break and subsequent off day and immediately option Hughes down after Thursday's game. Once optioned down, Hughes cannot return for ten days unless he's replacing an injured player. Optioning him down before the All-Star break will minimize the amount of Big League games he'll need to miss, and allow him at least two minor league starts to get stretched back to starting. Joe at RAB suggested a similar move as soon as Wang was injured.
Thanks to the All-Star break the Yankees won't need a fifth starter again until Tuesday July 21st. As good as Aceves has been, Hughes is the better pitcher, still figures to be a rotation stalwart for years to come, and right now gives the Yanks the better shot at winning every five days. Allowing him to shadow Aceves with a multiple inning stint Thursday then sending him out should give him enough time to be ready to start on the 21st and will allow Aceves to go back to his valuable and versatile role in the pen.
As for Wang, this latest setback should be the final nail in the coffin for his 2009 season. Hopefully he can get through this with rest and rehab and use a full rehab assignment to get himself right. Anything the Yanks get out of him this year has to be considered gravy at this point. Hopefully he'll start with a clean slate in 2010.
Lastly, not adding Mitre to the roster now still leaves the Yankees with a 40 man roster spot with which to toy. Technically the 40 man is full, but Xavier Nady, who undergoes Tommy John surgery today, can be transferred to the 60 day DL at any point, thereby opening a spot. I expect the Yanks to keep that ace up their sleeve as the July 31st deadline approaches. As for Mitre, he was impressive last night, allowing 7 baserunners and 1 earned run in 6.2 innings while striking out seven. For the year now, he has a 2.72 ERA in eight minor league starts covering 46.1 IP. He's allowed 44 hits and just 7 BB, while striking out 38. He's certainly worth keeping in mind as the season wears on.