Hughes gets the nod; what to do with Joba?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So, as John reported earlier, this morning Joe Girardi announced that Phil Hughes is the fifth starter.

Phil HughesImage by alexabboud via Flickr

According to Joel Sherman, this was Hughes's job to lose since February and he didn't lose it. This ends the spring of speculation about who will take the mound on April 17, the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.

The next thing that gets talked about any time you mention Hughes or Joba Chamberlain (more on him later) is the innings limit.

Since Hughes has thrown more innings over the course of his career, he will have a higher innings limit than Joba did last year. Initial estimates put that limit at around 170 innings. Girardi said that they have not come up with the plan on how to work around that, but expressed that he would like to do it at the beginning of the season and not the end.

Hopefully Hughes can stay healthy and put up the kind of season we've all expected since that would-be no-hitter in Texas a few years ago. He's going to have a little less pressure on him as the number 5 starter in what is one of the best (and, in my humble opinion the absolute best) rotations in baseball.

Giving Hughes the chance to start this season is not only because the team thinks he gives them the best chance to win this season, but because he could very well slide into the number 3 spot in the rotation next year. Javier Vazquez and Andy Pettitte are free agents after the season so it is unclear whether they will be back. If they do not come back, Hughes will be ready, and without an innings limit.

Now, what does this mean for Joba Chamberlain? When asked if this meant Joba would go to the 8th inning, Girardi said "If he earns it." Ok Joe, say Joba earns it. Then he goes to the bullpen and pitches 80 innings, at the most. Then when Andy and Javy leave, you need two more starters but one of them can only pitch 130. So there's only a couple of options here with Joba.

  1. The Yanks do what a lot of people (including the extremely loud guy on WFAN in the afternoons) want and say the Joba will be in the bullpen and is the successor to Mariano Rivera at closer. I've never been a B-Jobber, but it is an option.
  2. They put him in the bullpen this year, and then stretch him out and go through the Joba Rules all over again next year. I really hope this isn't an option, because I don't know if I can go another 3 years listening about the Joba Rules.
  3. This is the most jarring, but I think it's the best option: Girardi, Cashman, and the rest of the Yankee brain trust goes to Joba and says, "Look Joba, we want you to be a starter, but there isn't the room in the rotation this year. We're going to send you down to AAA so you can throw a lot of innings and work on a few things so you can be ready for next year. And after the minor league season is over, you can come back up here and help us win a World Series out of the bullpen." This has to be the best option. This is the first year Joba has no innings limit, and you're going to waste that in the bullpen? Do I think the Yankees have the cojones to do it? I don't know, only time will tell.


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