I’m going to do an impersonation for you. Let’s see if you can guess who it is.
Yesterday, I wrote that Joba Chamberlain could start the season in the bullpen. Today, Joel Sherman confirms, via a team official, that that will be the case. He’ll prepare in Spring Training as a starter, but will move into the setup corps once the season commences.
1. Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy would stay healthy to form the rotation. All five would be needed from the outset because the Yanks have just two scheduled off-days from March 31 through May 4.
2. Chamberlain stabilizes the area the Yankees profess offers their greatest uncertainty in 2008: Their setup crew in front of Mariano Rivera. The Yanks envision Chamberlain dominating in the eighth based on his 0.38 ERA and .145 batting average against in 19 regular-season games as a reliever last year.
3. The Yanks see the Chamberlain/Rivera tandem helping them be a dominant late-inning team over the first two months of the season. At some point in June, the Yanks would send Chamberlain to the minors for 3-4 weeks to stretch him out to 5-6 innings in preparation to be a full-time starter in the second half.
4. The Yanks hope is that over the first two months other relievers show enough fortitude/reliability to be moved into the eighth inning. Only Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins are guaranteed jobs. The Yanks think Girardi, who was a Cub teammate of Farnsworth for three years, might help the talented righty find greater consistency and grab the eighth inning.
Sherman also notes that Humberto Sanchez and Mark Melancon could be ready to go by the time Chamberlain is transitioning to a starting position.
This does seem like the ideal plan. Let’s hope it shakes out that way.