"Even if we pitch all the way throughout, it's not like he's going to be up around 200 innings," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I have to manage this as we move forward and see where we're at, but obviously, you hope he goes seven innings every time.
"If that happens, that's a good thing, but then it becomes somewhat of an issue, so you can't predict what's going to happen."
Just 5 1/3 innings shy of his highest single-season total as a professional, Hughes is likely looking at a limit of somewhere between 180-190 innings, although even the right-hander says he is not aware of the exact number.
The Yankees played with the digits in Hughes' last start, on Tuesday, when a nine-run Yankees sixth allowed the bullpen to pick up an inning that might have otherwise come out of Hughes' right arm.
Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said that it is a balancing act to juggle New York's postseason run and Hughes' restrictions, which are still not as severe as the ones that hampered Joba Chamberlain last year.
"It's difficult, but you've got to put his career first," Eiland said. "That's what this whole thing is about. We've got some days off and can do some different things, but coming down the stretch last year, we had the luxury of resting guys and giving them extra days [off]. Will we have that the last month or two weeks? We don't know yet."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Hughes' innings limit applies only to the regular season, and that Hughes "absolutely" would be considered in the discussion to make postseason starts.
"If we're able to accomplish our goal, which is to get to the playoffs, first and foremost, then it's all hands on deck," Cashman said. "I hope we're in a position to have those discussions. We expect to be."
-- Bryan Hoch