Joba Rules

There's been so much angst about Joba Chamberlain this season (he's lost his fastball! Inconsistent! Mediocre! Attitude! He can't go deep! Phil is the new Joba!) it's easy to forget how young he is, and what a blue chip he remains. I've been stunned by how quickly the Yankee faithful has soured on him, as if his struggles are indicative of a permanent slide rather than the slow learning curve of a MLB starter. For all the hemming and hawing, he's now 6-2, 3.86 on the season, and in his last 2 starts he's gone 13 plus allowing just 5 hits and 2 runs, with 12 ks and 6 walks. Yeah, there's a lot of room for improvement, but it seems clear to me the "move" to the rotation has been a success, and Phil Hughes should follow, and the sooner the better.

4 replies on “Joba Rules”

Couldn’t agree more. Also instructive –
Joba as a Professional – Starter Edition:
31 GS, 168 IP, 3.43 ERA, 166 K, 73 BB
That’s #1 quality right there. He also makes $500k and he’s under team control for another four years.
Case closed.
Now if only they’d do the right thing with Hughes. They should have a month ago.

Butbutbutbut…Steve Phillips said the Yankees were doomed if he didn’t go back to the pen! Steve Phillips, people!

Agree on Joba, not as certain about Phil. Transitioning to starter role mid-season always makes me nervous for the simple reason that it changes up the routine in a direction that risks over-throwing and raises the risk of injury. Changing the routine in the other direction (from starter to reliever) is much less traumatic for any number of reasons.
Let’s also please remember that Phil DID start this year: 7 games, during which he had 2 excellent starts (6.0 IP; 2H; 0 ER in the 1st game he started on 4/28 and 8.00 IP; 3H; 0 ER in the sixth start on 5/25). None of his other 5 starts qualified for even the milktoast designation of a “quality start”.
Moreover, in his 7 starts he AVERAGED less than 5 IP per start. That is fine in terms of starter-learning-curves but not in terms of burn-out-the-bullpen-real-fast, an effect which hits not only his starts but also those of the guys who follow him in the rotation and the season-long pen-durability. This bullpen concern was especially acute when Joba’s length was really questionable and the pen at the time was struggling even without the extra workload. Joba’s length is still questionable though he is doing his best to put some of that to bed.
I’d love to see Hughes start and believe it is where he should ultimately be. But I have no problem with how the Yankees have managed him and Joba to-date. The results speak for themselves and despite my initial skepticism, Mitre has been passable as a 5th starter, which is all they have asked him to be. As we get closer to Joba’s innings-limit then the need to either move Hughes back into the rotation or bring in Washburn or someone else will get stronger. I’m sure the Yankees have a plan for one or the other (or both) of these moves – a plan I’d love to know about and which we can all deride or applaud once it becomes self-evident.
I think we can all agree that the best case is that Joba makes a smooth transition to the pen and dominates there yet again while Hughes makes a smooth transition back to the rotation and is able to string together strong starts instead of having them intermittently. I just want in eveyrone’s advocating for this that we not forget that the tranisition isn’t easy, that since Hughes went to the pen on June 8 the Yankees are 27-15, including 12-5 in games in which he has pitched, and that if they for any reason feel Hughes isn’t up to making a mid-season transition without serious injury-risk, then keeping him where he is might be best.

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