It was announced today that The New York Yankees will have Phil Hughes as the 5th starter while Joba Chamberlain will start the season in the bullpen. I've been saying for the last few years now that Joba should not have been in the rotation. To me, his strength lies is the bullpen, especially in the 8th inning role that Hughes occupied last season.
Unless Joba's 0.38 ERA in 19 games with 24.1 innings pitched with a WHIP of 0.750 (34 strikeouts to 6 walks with 12 hits) during the 2007 was a fluke or a product of the league seeing him for the first time, it just seems to me that he should be in the bullpen. His velocity and movement works for the first two times through a lineup but he seemed to lose it within the third time around. Joba went 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA with 32 appearances (31 starts and 1 relief appearance) while struggling during last two months of the season. In addition to that, the fist-pumping and emotional Joba seemed to have that emotion quenched as a starter. On the other hand, Hughes' range of pitches plus his spot on command are better utilized in the rotation instead of the bullpen, though he excelled in the 8th inning role. In that capacity, Hughes made 44 of his 51 appearances in relief, going 8-3 with a 3.03 ERA and 3 saves. His 1.40 ERA in relief was the lowest in the majors.
We'll see how things play out. Maybe Hughes flounders and Joba steps back into the rotation though I believe that they way it is set up now is the ideal scenario. I really wish baseball would go back to the 4-man rotation of old. It seems as if it is a more useful set up, especially in April when the need for a fifth starter is diminished due to off days and days affected by weather. Time will tell. In the end, the Yankees success depends on how these homegrown pitchers fare this upcoming season. Will the hype be fulfilled or will it be just that: Hype.
For further reading:
- Click here for the article on Yankees.com announcing the 5th starter victor.
- Click here for Phil Hughes' stats from Baseball-reference.com
- Click here for an interesting article on Phil Hughes from The Hardball Times website by John Beamer
- Here is another interesting article on Phil Hughes from The Hardball Times website by Josh Kalik
- Click here for Joba Chamberlain's stats from Baseball-Reference.com
- Click here for an interesting article on Joba Chamberlain from The Hardball Times website by David Gassko
- Click here for an article from The Hardball Times comparing Hughes' and Joba's mechanics by Carlos Gomez