When Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox were promoted earlier this week, my thoughts instantly turned to Joba. The Yanks now have a bunch of arms moving their ways through the minors, and it seems that Brian Cashman wants to see what he has in the system as an 8th inning option.
Today, Tyler Kepner put those thoughts into words, and while Brian Cashman claims these recent moves are just individual promotions spurred on by separate development plans, it’s hard not to think about Joba. Kepner writes:
For Chamberlain to transition to the rotation, the Yankees need to have a replacement for him in the bullpen, and Cox is now at Class AAA, with Melancon a level below. Brian Cashman dismissed the idea that there was any connection, and he seemed weary of the topic when I asked him if the plan was still to have Chamberlain be a starter this season.
“Yes, but I just don’t want to be talking about it anymore,” Cashman said. “We’ve answered that question a thousand times. All these guys have individual game plans, and one has nothing to do with another.”
Maybe not, but I still don’t see how the Yankees can take Chamberlain out of the bullpen when he looks as dominant there as he did on Wednesday. Then again, maybe Cox and Melancon blaze their way to the majors, allowing Chamberlain to stretch out his arm as a starter in the minors for a few weeks. Chamberlain won’t throw 98 miles an hour as a starter in the Bronx, but perhaps he would still be overpowering.
Cashman is getting downright snippy about things. But really, there’s absolutely no way these moves aren’t part of some larger plan. It may not be about Chamberlain, per se, but it is about developing the Yanks’ minor league arms so that they are Major League-ready sooner rather than later.
As anyone who reads this site knows, we disagree with Kepner; it’s easy for the Yanks to move Joba into the rotation. Sure, he won’t throw 98 for 7 innings, but he’s always been a dominant starter. His peripherals — K/9 IP, BB/K, HR/9 IP — as a starter have been off the charts, and you just don’t waste those innings in the bullpen. This season, Chien-Ming Wang, the Yanks’ number one starter, has thrown 59 innings while Joba has hurled just over 17. The more innings of quality pitching, the better.
The Yankees can find 8th inning replacements for Joba. They can’t find a front-line starter quite as easily, and as Melancon, Cox and others work their way up, the plan for Joba will come into focus sooner rather than later. It’s just a matter of time.