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David Huff and reasonable expectations

David Huff will get to start this Saturday against the Red Sox. While he has earned it, please keep your expectations in check, Yankee fans.

Rich Schultz

As Jason reported last night, David Huff has replaced Phil Hughes as the starter in the Yankees upcoming game with the Boston Red Sox this Saturday. This was a move that, to put it bluntly, had to happen. Hughes had to be skipped from his scheduled Sunday start against the Orioles because he could not be trusted to face their potent Manny Machado doubling, Chris Davis dingering lineup. Instead he was demoted to "good enough to face the White Sox on Monday" status. That Monday was an almost perfect meteorological description of where the Yankees are currently at with Hughes and Huff. The rain was falling on Hughes and then Huff came in two hours later and brought the sunshine with him. Perhaps Girardi decided to follow Mother Nature's advice. No one will blame him for this. Yankee fans still need to temper their expectations with David Huff.

Huff is being thrown into the fire this weekend. As vomit-inducing as this is to type, the Red Sox are currently the best team in the American League and the third-best team in the majors. Their offense is a force to be reckoned with. Thus far, David Huff has faced the likes of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox. That takes nothing away from what Huff has done against them, but they are not the Red Sox and he will be facing them as a starter, not a "Hughes pitched a bad game again" reliever. Both realism and optimism are needed here.

Realistically, Huff has never really been considered as much of anything for the Yankees this year. Many fans were shocked when he was called up to begin with. This is a pitcher who was claimed off of waivers from the Cleveland Indians back on May 23rd. This is a pitcher who was then designated for assignment by the Yankees, almost immediately after claiming him, to make way for the return of Joba Chamberlain. In case you read that incorrectly, I'll repeat. The man who is starting for us against the Red Sox this Saturday was DFA'd for the return of Joba, who as of right now cannot be DFA'd fast enough to make Yankee fans happy. This has been quite a season.

This is where optimism comes in though. Huff has little to lose and everything to gain. Huff may not be anything more than a long man in the bullpen, but this is his chance to show that he can be more. Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are not just giving Huff the spot because Phil has been horrendous (Hughrendous?) as of late. We are all witnesses to the Yankees' loyalty to even their worst of pitchers. They've obviously liked what Huff has shown them or they would have given the ball to Adam Warren instead. I'm no expert into the human psyche, even though I like to pretend I am, but I would think the combination of everything I just typed would help relieve the pressure for Huff. If he doesn't do well, he still has a spot in the pen. If he does do well, the sky is the limit.

Huff does not have to pitch like Ivan Nova on Saturday. He just has to not pitch like Hughes. He has thus far shown that he can do exactly that by actually knowing what to do with an 0-2 count. Perhaps Rothschild deserves some credit for being able to work with Huff. Perhaps Brian Cashman deserves credit for picking him up. Regardless of who deserves the credit, until he shows any signs of being a worse option than Hughes, Huff should be in the starting rotation. I cannot think of a better test of this than to see what he can do against our most hated of rivals.

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