Memo to Yankees: Make Joba the fifth starter

March 25, 2010

Joba deserves to start this year

Joba Chamberlain should be a starter.

Unless he goes out this year and rolls out a poultry five-plus ERA, throws 91 mph heaters combined with meatball cement mixers, then by all means, put him in the pen. But hasn’t he earned the opportunity to pitch a full season without shackles?

We’ve all seen the bad Joba. The, take 10 minutes between each pitch, scared to throw strikes and walk everyone, Joba.

If your an avid Yankees fan that watches every game — like me and fellow TONY Sports contributor Vanglorious — then you’ve definitely seen the great Joba as well. His first three starts after the All Star break in 2009 were stellar (23 IP, 20-plus K’s, 2ER)  and we all remember the 2008 gem versus Josh Beckett and the Red Sox in Fenway.

Some pitchers take a few seasons to hit their stride, and 2010 will prove to be a make-or-break year for Joba. This would be his first full season without an innings limit, and if he can show us the kind of stuff he showed in his few sparkling outings, then the decision to make him a starter panned out.

But Yankees fans may not be able to see that happen. Word on the street is that Phil Hughes has the inside track on the 5th spot in the rotation, which would move Joba into the 8th inning role.

A few points on that.

One. Hughes’ numbers in 2009 as the set up man to the best closer in baseball history were actually better than Joba’s during his 6-week stint in 2007. Though Hughes struggled in the 2009 postseason, the Yankees would not have won the division without him setting up Mo during the regular season.

Two. If Hughes is named the starter, he will have the same shackles Joba had on him last year, which means an innings limit around 160, and the same horse and pony show we saw last year — which gave me massive angst.

3. Though Joba was great during that short stint in 2007, in his first pressure-filled playoff game — the midges game in the ALDS v. Cleveland — he let the game winning run score. Granted, he was a young reliever then, fast forward to the 2009 WS, and Joba wasn’t the same dominant reliever we first saw in September of 2007. If you remember, he gave up the game-tying jack in the 8th to light hitting Pedro Feliz. We haven’t seen Joba be that 100 mph flame thrower since ’07, and I don’t think we ever will, so the idea that he’s the “greatest set-up man” is simply false. He was GREAT in 2007, but after that, he failed to show the same moxy and dominance in the 8th inning role as he did when he first came up.

Put Hughes in the pen, and pencil Joba in as the 5th starter. If he fails this year, put him back in the pen and hope he can regain his stuff. But he deserves a chance to showcase his stuff this year without boundaries.


  1. couldnt agree more…there are plenty of hall of fame pitchers who struggled as starters early in their career. Not saying joba is going to be a hall of famer, but u get the point.

    maybe they just want to groom him to be mo’s succesor?

  2. You hit the nail on the head budddddaay!
    Couldn’t agree more, Joba deserves the 5th spot in the rotation.
    On the other hand, Hughes was extremely skittish in the set-up roll throughout the ’09 Playoffs. That scares me, especially because whoever takes the set-up job this upcoming season, should be expected to take over for Mo in the near future.
    When I think about it that way, I’d much rather Joba be the heir to Mariano.

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