There was no controversy when Joe Girardi named Phil Hughes to be the Yankees 5th starter! The whole scenario ended as it should have. Not only did the better performer win the position, but the better man for the job won it. Hughes has the makeup of a frontline starting pitcher: he has the calm demenor, great stuff and he has youth on his side. Joba Chamberlain has the all the makings of a future closer: fiery personality, great stuff and stubbornness.
Hughes wasn't even that bad as a starting pitcher in '09. If you take out one lopsided start in Baltimore (1 2/3 IP, 8 ER), then Hughes posted a 3.54 ERA in his 6 other starts. The Yankees severely overreacted to his slightly bloated ERA at the time (5.45) and put Hughes in the bullpen where they lucked out and he was lights out for the remainder of the season (52 1/3 IP, 8 ER, 1.38 ERA). The move doesn't really weaken the bullpen either as Chamberlain has always been lights out coming out of the 'pen and the Yanks have several other fine young arms as well(Robertson, Melancon, Marte, Aceves).
Hughes has been attacking hitters this spring just like he did when he came out of the bullpen last year (maybe the move actually helped him out a bit too). His fastball has been in the low to mid 90's and his curveball has been just as devastating as it always has been. Opponents can't just sit on these two pitches anymore though. Hughes cutter, which he developed last year is a new weapon and provides a different look to opposing hitters. And his changeup, a pitch he didn't use last year, has been suprisingly effective so far this spring and just adds another effective bullet to his holster!
Hughes projections this year have been modest at best, but those projections take into account performance and playing time. His performance could be guessed but going into the last week, projecting his playing time was a mystery. It's not out of the guestion for Hughes to put up big numbers if he can remain healthy. He could reasonably put up 15 wins this season. That would be a huge boost coming from the number 5 starter and would provide the Yankees with another weapon that they didn't have last year!