Today, the New York Yankees made an announcement that should raise the eyebrows of many fantasy baseball team owners.  Phil Hughes will be the team’s 5th starter.

The news ends speculation that was ongoing throughout the spring between Hughes and teammate Joba Chamberlain.

“What I set out to do this spring was win that job,” Hughes said to Pat Borzi of the New York Times.  “I felt like I did everything they asked me to do, and they felt like I was the right guy for the spot.”

So what does this mean for fantasy owners looking for depth and talent added to their roster?

For one, it means a significant drop in Joba Chamberlain’s value.  At this point, the fiery pitcher could only mean something to owners that have holds as an important stat – that is, if Chamberlain earns a spot in the bullpen (which he likely will).

As for Phil Hughes, there are a few points (both positive and negative) to be made regarding his value to fantasy owners:

Grading the Fantasy Value of Phil Hughes

  • PLUS: The Yankees have pointed out that one of the main reasons Hughes was named to the rotation was due to an improved changeup – which will be key to his success, considering it adds an extra look for hitters.
  • PLUS: Hughes WILL HAVE VALUE for one main reason: he has the Yankees lineup as protection.  All those runs likely will need to a lot of wins if he stays in the rotation.
  • MINUS: So far in his major league career, Hughes has had very limited success in the starting rotation.  In fact, his best season (in his young career) was last year, when Hughes went 8-3 with 3.03 ERA – but of the 51 games he pitched in, only 7 were starts.
  • MINUS: In his career as a starter in New York, Hughes is 8-9 with a 5.22 ERA (28 starts over three seasons).


The Final Word:

Keep an eye on Phil Hughes – whether as a late draft pick, or a potential early season free agent acquisition (if your league has drafted already).  When pitching for a potent team that wins a lot of games, one should expect Hughes to have plenty of upside.  The addition of a better changeup plus a likelihood for significant run support should bring much needed wins to your fantasy team.

Draft him late as a bargain pick, if you can.