Yankees GM Brian Cashman will talk with Joe Girardi, Larry Rothschild and his scouts on Monday, but it is not a foregone conclusion that Andy Pettitte will pitch this weekend against the Mariners.
"We have an off day [today]," Cashman said from the dentist's office this morning. "There are five other guys in the current rotation and when is he ready for us? Do we want to add him now? How do you slot him in? Where do you slot him in? Does he need another outing? I don't have to make a decision on any of that stuff today."
So let us take a look. The Yankees have Ivan Nova, David Phelps and CC Sabathia lined up for the next three games against the Tampa Bay Rays. The easy move would be to take Phil Hughes out of the rotation, after his poor April. However, following Hughes' strong start Sunday, the Yankees may think he is on an uptick and may not want to lift him out of the rotation.
"I thought he was great," Cashman said of Hughes' 6 2/3 innings of three-run ball in Kansas City Sunday.
If the Yankees don't lift Hughes from the rotation, then after Hiroki Kuroda's start on Friday vs. Seattle, Hughes is scheduled to go on Saturday. Sunday is Ivan Nova's turn.
However, they could insert Pettitte between two of those righties to create a righty-lefty alternating setup to their rotation and push Hughes and/or Nova back one day. Pettitte would then start on Saturday, followed by Hughes Sunday and then Nova in Baltimore for the Yankees' two-gamer there. Phelps would be bounced from the rotation and Sabathia would pitch in the second game in Baltimore next Tuesday.
Under this scenario your Yankee rotation would go in the following order: Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova.
There is a lot for Cashman and his lieutenants to figure out. They could also decide that Pettitte needs one more tune-up, even if he says he is ready.
In Mariano Rivera's absence, Cashman isn't going to move Hughes out of the rotation as a way to make the seventh inning stronger.
This makes sense if the Yankees still believe -- which I think they do -- that Hughes can be a very good starter. They aren't prepared to give up on him in the rotation so I don't think he is going to be the odd man out. At least, not yet.
If the Yankees determine they have better options in the rotation, that is when Hughes would lose his spot.
"My feeling is always the same," Cashmans said. "Any starter out of the rotation would be out of the bullpen. Everyone is focusing on Phil. Let's remember, Phil was used as the setup guy. That circumstance occurred before because there was a void. Whatever you ask about Phil, you can ask about CC.
"Listen, I'm not motivated to move any of our starters in the rotation just because there is a perceived, 'Who do we have for the sixth and seventh inning?' "