Fat lot of good Joba would have done in the eighth inning tonight. No, elite setup men tend not to enter the eighth inning when their team is down 7-3. The only thing that could have helped us at that point was an offensive surge. No pitcher — not Koufax, nor Gibson, nor Maddux, nor Mo — can take runs off the board. But they can prevent them from getting there in the first place.
You can see where I’m going with this. Joba the starter would have been nice tonight (in theory, of course). As is often the case, the innings before the eighth were more important than that one singular inning. This is why good starters are so valuable — and so overpaid on the free agent market. If you can find a guy who keeps runs off the board early in the game, the need for an elite setup corps is diminished.
This is why you have to give Joba every shot to succeed as a starter. Yes, I understand the idea of deploying him in the 7th and 8th innings, thereby making it a “six-inning game.” But to illustrate the benefits of having Joba in the rotation, you need to look no further than our opponent last night.
Joba has the potential to be every bit as good, if not better than Josh Beckett. There’s no guarantee that he reaches that level, but why not give him every chance to do so? Imagine if that was Joba instead of Moose tonight. Wouldn’t you rather have a guy like that going every five days, rather than every couple of days for an inning or two from the bullpen?
You can’t take runs off the board. That’s why every inning matters. When you have a guy with the potential to be a frontline starter, you want him out there preventing runs for as many innings as possible. And if he reaches his potential, I’m sure there will be plenty of times where he does pitch in the eighth inning…of his own start.
(I apologize to anyone who is sick of hearing this debate. This is what I was thinking about during the game, and I doubt anyone wants to read a recap. Hence, it is the game story.)