That was the quote from Joe Girardi, speaking in reference to the eigth inning setup role left vacant when Brian Bruney was injured. With all of the injuries and breakdowns that have befallen the Yankees 'pen, it doesn't seem unreasonable that Girardi would be turning to Phil Coke, but last night a new contender emerged for the job.
After Andy Pettitte battled through yet another six inning start, Girardi called on Phil Hughes to pitch the seventh. Sitting at 93-94 mph, and displaying his usual wicked curveball, Hughes looked every bit of the setup man that the Yankees are in which the Yankees are in such dire need.
Philly Yayo also pitched a scoreless inning, but in his usual fashioned he did his part to make it more interesting. Striking out Carlos Pena to start the inning, to me, was impressive. I must say that I was waiting for the Mike-Myers-to-David-Ortiz moment where Coke would hang a slider and Pena would hit it into the next fiscal quarter, but alas, I was proved wrong. But it was what happened after that that should concern Yankee fans. It seems as though Coke can not have the clean inning that is needed in a one run game. Though he eked through last night, how many times will a team as powerful as the Ex Rays leave that tying run on second?
This may seem like a pro-bulpen Hughes argument, but it isn't. If he benefits the team there now then so be it, but a longer term solution must be found. Once a spot in the starting five opens up, Hughes has to be stretched out enough to take the ball for six innings. Throwing one and two inning outings could result in a regression.
I look forward to seeing who comes available on the trade market, but for right now, my vote is to make a move for Huston Street of Colorado. He is a proven back-of-the-bullpen guy, and could be had for a non-Montero-or-Jackson prospect. For now, though, the eigth inning should belong to Hughes.