Hey, remember how during spring training, the Yankees had an open competition for the fifth-starter job? And how, at one point, Alfredo Aceves was considered the leading candidate to win the job? Seems more than a little ridiculous now, considering that Phil Hughes — the eventual winner of the fifth spot — has not only been the best starter on the team through his first six starts, he’s been one of the best in the American League. Aceves? He’s on the disabled list with back problems.
After last night’s outing — an 8–0 win that was much closer than that through eight innings — Hughes improved to 5–0 with a league-leading ERA and ERA+ and a minuscule .923 WHIP, good for second in the league. (He’s allowed just 22 hits in 39 innings.) Said Johnny Damon: “On 15 or 20 teams, he’s probably an ace. For the Yankees, he’s the No. 4 starter.” Actually, Johnny, technically he’s the No. 5 starter. But in practice, he might as well be their ace right now, too.
Weather permitting, their actual ace, CC Sabathia, pitches this afternoon against Justin Verlander as the Yankees go for a series split. But it’s pouring in Detroit, so that game may not happen. The Yankees likely wouldn’t mind a rain-out: They’d lose an off-day later in the season — the teams have three mutual off-days on which they could make up the game — but it would straighten out their rotation. They’d be able to start CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte against Minnesota this weekend. Otherwise, they’d need to find a starter for Sunday. Our guess is that it would be Sergio Mitre — another of those spring-training-competition losers.