Oh, boy! Here we go again. One save, and the calls for Phil Hughes to succeed Mariano Rivera as New York Yankee closer when Mo retires have started.
Asked if it felt different to get the final three outs - something virtually every pitcher that has ever closed a game for the first time has said - Hughes said it was "no different" than the other innings he’s pitched.
"Just one more inning than I’ve been used to," Hughes said. "I had a little cushion to work with, which was nice. I was just thinking about the next pitch and trying to execute it. It didn’t really sink in until Robbie threw me the ball."
It almost felt as though Hughes couldn’t understand why people were making such a big deal about the save. He had a three-run lead after all, so what was the big deal? He was even embarrassed to find the championship belt - given to the team’s player of the game - in his locker, believing it should have gone to CC Sabathia for his seven innings instead.
"It’s the same guys. They’re not bringing in superheroes in the ninth," Hughes said. "When there’s nobody on base, I knew I couldn’t give it up with one pitch. I was a little more relaxed and able to attack with my pitches."
Still, getting your first career save is usually something pitchers cherish. Hughes didn’t seem all that impressed, having simply done what he’s been doing for the past six weeks - getting hitters out.
"Everyone has different personalities," Joe Girardi said. "Everyone probably feels something inside but might show it in different ways. He’s been really good. He’s taken this role and really ran with it. He comes out with a lot of confidence and really good stuff every night."
And that’s my point. If Hughes isn’t the perfect guy to take over for Rivera when his contract expires after the 2010 season, I don’t know who is. I would take his even-keel approach over a fist-pumper any day.
Do the Yankees have a bullpen answer? It seems so. They may even have just stumbled onto their successor to the greatest closer of all time. Isn’t it finally nice to be able to talk about a young pitcher without hearing excuses about their development, innings limitations, and about what they could be? Phil Hughes is showing you how good he is out of the bullpen and how this just might be where he belongs.
Have the Yankees really stumbled into a successor for Mo? I don't know, but I think we have likely found a successor to the 'Joba to the bullpen' argument.
The Yankees see both Hughes and Chamberlain as long-term starters, and I don't see that changing unless one shows eventually he just can't handle the innings load of a starter.
But, someone has to close when Rivera eventually retires.
So, thanks Phil. Now you've gone and started a whole new argument. Way to go!