Joe Girardi faces a tough decision when he is called upon to name the American League pitchers for the All-Star Game this year. Phil Hughes has pitched well beyond expectations for the Yankees this year, and his 10-1, 3.17 record so far would ordinarily make him a lock for the All-Star team. However, the Yankees had made plans when the season began that were intended to limit the number of innings Hughes would throw, and part of the plan involved skipping a start or two right before the All-Star break, and maybe one or two after, rather than employing the ridiculous method they used on Joba Chamberlain last year with disastrous results.
With another four starts coming up before the break, Phil Hughes could make Girardi's decision even harder by pitching well enough to be named the starter. Girardi would certainly need a guy like Hughes on his roster, and Hughes deserves the honor, but naming him would fly in the face of the Yankees long-term plans for Hughes having the All-Star break off to keep him fresh for the stretch run. If Hughes is named to the team, Girardi would then need to make a choice whether to use him in the game or to short himself one pitcher by letting Hughes sit on the bench. If it came right down to using Hughes to help the American League win the game and potentially give the Yankees home field advantage in the World Series, or sticking to the Yankees plan to rest Hughes, what does Girardi do?
I think the case could be made for Hughes being named the starter for the American League. Let him pitch the first inning, and then take him out. It would be the same as a bullpen session between starts, and the Yankees would have to let him do some throwing while they were resting him, to make sure he stays sharp when the put him back in the rotation. If he deserves it, why not have that activity be starting the All-Star Game?