Sherman: Joba will start in the pen

Pettitte, Knoblauch, Radomski out; Clemens, McNamee to face off
Speed of lightning, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder

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.

Pettitte, Knoblauch, Radomski out; Clemens, McNamee to face off
Speed of lightning, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder
  • Old Ranger

    I still like Joba as starter from the start. Oh well, that’s why we mortals are not the manager. There is good reasoning behind their decisions, I just like him as a starter. As a starter he would be skipped over, bla, bla, bla.
    They are right about the BP needing help until things work out in ST. It just frost my ba@@s to wast a 4 pitch guy in the BP. I have great faith in IPK, Phil, CMW, Andy and Moose as the starting 5. Let’s all hope they made the right choice, and everything works out. 27/08

    • Realist

      Gotta agree my friend! A 4 pitch pitcher spells starter in most organisations.

      My greatest fear is that he will do so well that he never leaves the pen. Now I know that sounds strange but I would rather he prove he isn’t as effective as a starter before going to the pen. I could just see him never getting the chance to start if he continues to dominate as a bridge to Mo.

      I wrote yesterday that it was backwards logic placing him in the pen in the first 2 months only to expect him to be able to pitch at least 5 innings as a starter. Now I see they would send him to the minors to get reacllimated(sp?) to starting????????????? That’s alot to expect from a young kid and hurts the major leauge team by depriving them of one of their top pitchers? It makes little to no sense to me….but what the hell do I know?

  • Spike

    I have no problem with this plan…. In the back of my mind, however, I worry that switching a youngster from the pen to the rotation in midseason could lead to arm problems. But I’m just a worrier by nature.

  • Rob

    I can’t argue much there. Problem is, what happens when one of the starters gets hurt in March, April, or May. If it’s a hamstring tweak, then maybe they go with Rasner or Igawa or even Horne for a week or two. But what if it’s an elbow or shoulder? Wouldn’t it be better to get Joba some work when he’s absolutely needed as a starter than holding him back for a time that may or may not come to pass? And with a month of preparation in the minors?

    Honestly, I’d still rather see Joba throw two inning stints at two or three times a week for the whole season. Not only would he lock down the 7th AND 8th innings, but even at 6 innings a week (2 inning appearances X 3 appearances) he’d come out at less than 150 innings for the year. In learning to throw two innings at a time, he’d also learn a bit about pacing himself and using his secondary pitches. Then next Winter he could begin the transition to starter in earnest.

    • steve (different one)

      the problem with your plan isn’t the innings cap, the problem is now getting him ENOUGH innings. i don’t think the Yankees can get him to 150 innings strictly out of the bullpen. THAT would seriously endanger his arm. 1996 Rivera would be the model they’d be following and he only got to 108 innings.

      if he was used out of the pen like you say and only gets to 110-120 innings, he can then only go to 150 next year and we are in the exact same situation.

      i do agree with you in that i think he should be used for longer outings when he IS in the pen, but that can only be for half of the season. whether it’s the first half or second half is debatable, but he has to try to get to 150 innings.

      taking your most prized possession and pitching him 2 innings every other game for an entire season would be really dangerous in my opinion.

    • Rob

      Actually, Mo got 120 innings in 1996 when you consider the playoffs too. A bit more diligent use of Joba (perhaps in steady conjunction with Hughes and Moose to help restrict their innings) would get him a bit more work.

      I agree that the 6 innings every week is problematic. But I see no problem with 10 innings for every two weeks. Over the 7 months of the season (April to October), that’s 140 innings, with perhaps a bit more in October. Shoot, as the season wears on, they could even leave him out there for a few three inning appearances in close games and as the pennant race determines. Imagine a tie game, 2-2, in Boston in August that Phil started but we’re looking at his innings cap. Bring in Joba for two or three innings.

      The only downside, in my mind, is that he’s out there too frequently. That’s where a new version of the Joba Rules could work:

      1. No back to back appearances
      2. No more than 6 innings a week.

      In reality, with the number of blowouts the Yankee offense produces, he’d have maybe two close games each week. The problem is planning those appearances, but it seems very manageable.

  • Tripp

    Still like Joba in the bullpen at the end of the season in case someone hasn’t stepped up to take the eigth inning spot. Start him in the rotation and move him to the bullpen.

    Think one of the vets on the market still will be brought in to eat some innings?

  • E-ROC

    I hope the Yankees stick this plan. I wonder who would be bumped from the rotation when Chamberlain is inserted. I assume it would be Mussina.

    • Rich

      I agree. Moose has usually needed a mid-summer stint on the DL in recent years.

  • Drew

    I will say that this makes perfect sense from an innings and usage point of view. However, how will they put him into the rotation and limit kennedy and hughes who should have caps around 180-190?

    • steve (different one)

      they would still have Mussina. to keep a cap at 180-190 innings, and say leave a cushion of 15 innings or so for the playoffs (hopefully), what do they have to do, skip 3-5 starts?

      there should be enough off-days to juggle the rotation enough to make this happen without much difficulty.

      Rasner or Karstens might have to make a few spot starts.

  • samiamsports

    Ive got a big problem with this, Just look how the phills hurt brett myers by moving him in and out of the rotation. this really bothers me

  • Curramba

    I don’t know but wouldn’t it make more sense to start him and then at some point later on send him to the pen. Yeah, he may be the bridge to Mo for the start of the season but then at some point you loose him all together for a month. Whose to say that the bridge to Mo will be any more stable with him in the minors. I’d rather he start and only if Moose has a great ST send IPK to AAA until you need to move Joba to the pen. Let the other kids prove themselves in the pen if Farnsy and Hawkins don’t do their job.

  • Old Ranger

    It takes7/8 pitchers to make a good starting rotation, for the year. I don’t think every pitcher will go without a little twik, when it happens, you need that next guy to step up and perform well. Will some of the guys such as; Rasner, Karstens or some other guy step up? Let’s hope so.
    Right on every other day, 2 innings, equals…arm trouble. Not every kid is Mo. 27/08

  • Ben K.

    Where’s the unfunny “zinger” at the end of this post about how the Yankees suck or something along those lines? Close, Joe, close.

    • Joseph P.

      What? Too optimistic?

  • pounder

    Bring in a Blanton or Fogg to allay any fears of over use.Watch for Horne to emerge this season and be a big shot in the arm for the rotation,that is if he can maintain some modicum of control.

    • steve (different one)

      who do you propose the Yankees trade for Blanton?

      would you do A-Jax, Horne, and say, Whelan?

      the A’s have absolutely no incentive to trade Blanton. they can easily afford his 2008 salary. and there will be lots of competition for Blanton.

      Beane is only going to trade him if he gets knocked over.

    • E-ROC

      I would rather have the Yanks sign Freddy Garcia than Fogg or trade for Blanton.

  • jon

    I don’t get why they’d move him to the minors to build his arm up. Why not do it in the majors? Innings are innings (almost). AAA innings aren’t as stressful on an arm as ML innings, but it’s not that far off.

    The Yankees are going to be a dogfight with Boston all season and every game counts.

    Why not start bringing him in in the 5th or 6th in June to start to stretch him out. Let him pitch 3 innings, then 4. Then let him start, knowing he’ll only pitch 4 innings, then 5, then 6, and he’s ready.

    The downsides:

    – you’d want to keep him on a regular schedule. So maybe early on, there’s a day when he’s scheduled to pitch 3 or 4 innings and the starter is coasting along in the 5th inning. I say too bad – sure it would be nice to keep the starter in, but getting the value of Joba’s innings is more important. Plus they could line him up with Mussina (who is probably the least likely to consistently pitch more than 5 quality innings).

    – you’d have a dead roster spot on the days when he can’t pitch. Example: he pitches 3 2/3 one day and is scheduled to pitch ~4 innings the next time. Presumably he’d be on a starter’s schedule (i.e. 4 off-days). So on those 4 off-days, you’re down a pitcher. Again, I say too bad. Having Joba pitch 4 innings every 5 days is more valuable than having a 13th hitter or 7th bullpen arm.

    Thoughts? I just don’t get the rationale for sending him to the minors.

    • kunaldo

      Totally agree Jon…boggles my mind why they would send him down for 3-4 weeks…that could kill your season! innings in the majors would do just fine…your plan makes sense

  • TurnTwo

    i believe the success of the rotation falls in the lap of IPK. if he remains effective at the back end, he allows this development plan to go forward as scheduled, and this entire staff, from rotation to bullpen, i really feel is a force.

    if you get an injury, i feel comfortable in the short-term of running Horne, Marquez, White, Rasner or Karstens out there to eat innings, or split a couple starts among them. Depth is definately a strength for this team this season to where we shouldnt have to see Cashman or Girardi panic and pull Joba out of the setup role to start in late April, etc.

  • yadda yadda

    Of course, this worked really well for Francisco Liriano.

    It’s a terrible idea. I think you skip starts and sign an innings eater at #5. The ideal guy just got signed by the Twins, which was Livan.

    • steve (different one)

      in what way is Livan Hernandez “ideal” for anything?

      he struck out 90 people in over 200 innings last year while walking 79 and giving up 247 hits. his WHIP was 1.595.

      what do you think that would look like in the AL East?

      i’d guess it would translate to an ERA of about 6.50.

      also, i am not sure what your point is about Liriano. Liriano complained about pain in his arm. the Twins waited a few weeks then sent him out to pitch again.
      do you really think the Yankees would do that to Joba? you have no idea whether or not his injury was caused by starting the season in the bullpen. it would be the same as if i said, because Santana did it successfully, Joba will definitely have no problems. i can’t say that. just like you can’t say Liriano is evidence of the opposite. every pitcher is different.

  • Chip

    I highly doubt they’d send him down to the minors to “stretch him out”. They’re being careful but not THAT careful with him. He’ll start doing some longer relief and get in some long bullpen sessions about mid-season and then they’ll give him the ball for good. If Joba, Hughes and IPK start getting up there in innings towards the end, you’ll see the likes of Marquez and Horne up for a major league look.

  • zack

    Is it just me or does Joba look like he dropped about 20 pounds in that picture?

    • Joseph P.

      Zack, don’t you listen to the mainstream media? Joba has a weight problem. Guys with weight problems don’t drop 20 pounds.

      • steve (different one)

        he has a weight problem because he hangs out with Hughes, who is “lazy”.

        also, ever since Cano got his long term contract, he has been eating 7 whoppers a day and sometimes he forces Joba to eat them at gunpoint.

  • samiamsports

    Steve(diff one),This is what i propose. (although I know it will never happen)


    All I’m hearing these days is that the Yankees are worried about keeping all of there young arms around the 180 inning mark, and they are worried about burning their arms because they are just still a bunch of kids. You know what? I agree with this mindset. They should keep them fresh and let them develop properly. As a matter a fact Buster Olnley just reported that The Yanx are prepared to start Joba out of the pen this year.With the “JOBA RULES ” still in effect. Just for the sole reason of keeping his innings down.
    I was thinking about it yesterday, If the Yankees want to keep there young arms fresh and still have them be effective and at the same time keep the bullpen fresh and effective there is a logical answer which would be a controversial one at best. Why don’t they try a 6 man rotation?

    Which would look something like this.







    Before you guys jump down my throat think about it. All the youngsters would get around 30 starts instead of 35 which would limit there innings at least 25 to 30 innings less.

    If the starters are more fresh they go deeper into games then the bullpen stays fresh and more effective and we don’t have to worry about a very tired bullpen by the all star break.
    All I’m saying is I think it should be in the thought process and shouldn’t be disregarded just because its an unpopular thing to do.
    Although I know its never going to happen . Its worth discussing.

    • jon

      I like the idea and have been saying it for awhile. Actually I think the ideal thing would be some sort of modified 6-man rotation where Wang pitches as close to regular rest as possible, with the others skipping starts, etc., whatever. It could work, especially with off-days, rainouts, etc. Seems that he’s the only one who wouldn’t gain from extra rest (could actually be hurt by it), and would also be upset about it because it would impact his future earnings (unlike every other starter).

      • jon

        And all that said, you can bet your life that the Yankees HAVE considered this possiblity, and simply decided against it. I’d love to hear the different solutions they’ve considered, and their reasoning for the one they chose.

        Finally, maybe the point was addressed and I missed it, but what about the innings of Hughes and Kennedy??

    • steve (different one)

      i don’t think anyone is going to jump down your throat. this is a legitimate option. i would support something like this.

      but Girardi was pretty clear from the beginning he didn’t want to do this for whatever reason.

      i don’t disagree. but i also don’t think the proposed plan is horrible either.

      there has to be SOME mechanism to limit Joba’s innings. the Yankees are trying to leverage his bullpen experience to buy them some time to sort out the rest of the bullpen. i think that’s ok, as long as the STICK to the plan.

      the only mechanism i really object to is keeping him in the bullpen from start to finish. because this time next year, i want to be talking about Joba Chamberlain, #1 Starter for the New York Yankees.

  • Curramba

    Several people have mentioned Kartens and Rasner but if I recall correctly one of the was released in the off season. I think it was Rasner so you can take him out of the mix of probably pitchers for the Yankees.

    • steve (different one)

      he was released and re-signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.

  • Curramba

    steve (different),
    thanks, I hadn’t heard anything about it.

  • Jeff

    Same conclusion as I got from yesterday’s post – that given the innings limit and the team’s need this seems like the natural move.
    Jon above made a good point as far as being able to strech Joba out on the Yankee roster. I mentioned yesterday as well that I think they should transition him by allowing for some extended BP sessions followed by some short starts. Mussina or IPK could follow with the long relief.
    Injuries could surely alter this plan but (nock on wood) I’m praying we miss that one this year.

  • Rob_in_CT

    All in all I’d rather see JobaPhil tandem starters. They both need to keep their innings down. Phil starts, goes 4-5. Joba goes another 3-5 (depending on the situation). That makes the most sense to me. Wang-AP-Moose-JobaPhil-IPK. Rasner, Karstens and Igawa are the backups, at least at first (hopefully Horne proves his worth and leapfrogs them).


    the yanks should sing another pitcher say like even a bartolo colon give him a a shot and leave joba in da bullpen ds guy is amazing as a reliever he adds depth to da pen and den humberto sanchez is coming in august or sumtin like that and he will also add depth this could be a great bullpen if everyone is healthy

  • mustang

    Love the plan, but Joba will never leave the pen once he starts there. But we see.

    • dan

      That’s what I’m afraid of. I’ll believe the plan when I see it.

  • dan

    And also, Melancon would have to be straight up ballin’ to reach the bigs by June. The only way I see him up by mid-June is if he starts in AA, which is unlikely coming off the TJ

  • Travis G.

    ok, fine, i guess i can live with this (as long as they DO reconvert him back to starting come June). like the first comment, i also fear that Joba will be SO good (again) as a RP that Hank and the casual fans will fall in love with him in that role (when he’s far more valuable as a SP).

    it gives some of the young’ins (Edwar, Ohlie, Alby, Patterson) more time to develop and hopefully take over Joba’s role in June.

  • Colter

    Joba and Phil are both on innings limits. The solution: they should share a rotation spot. Joba starts out in the pen and Phil is in the rotation. At some point in the season, they switch(with maybe a little overlap so Moose can get some rest). At the end of the season they’ll have (probably) the better of the two starters in the rotation in Joba for the postseason. The plan shouldn’t be effected if Mussina pitches poorly because it’ll be too tempting to let Phil and Joba go past their limits. Replace with Mussina with Horne or Marquez if he sucks.

    Joba definitely looked leaner in that pitcher. I hope he hasn’t lost velocity. Also, Lohud said Wang looked bigger.