The next stop on the Joba train comes on Wednesday. The soon to be starter will aim to throw 50 to 55 pitches in relief against the Orioles, hopefully with a bit more economy than Saturday, where he threw 40 pitches (22 strikes) over two innings of work. After that, though, the Yanks might run into an issue: You can’t count throwing more pitches than that out of the bullpen, even if Mussina is the starter.
This would create an interesting scenario for the starting rotation. Namely, who do you axe in favor of Chamberlain? If he’s going to start a game, it’s best not to screw around. After throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday, he should be on tap to pitch Monday (five days’ rest), and certainly no later than Tuesday. With the off day on Thursday, the Yanks will have some juggling to do.
Kennedy is going tonight, and Pettitte is going tomorrow. That much is set. Clearly, a lot rides on Kennedy’s outing. He’d be the clear choice for removal from the rotation. If that were the case, you’d probably see Mussina go Friday, Wang go Saturday, Rasner Sunday, and Joba Monday, possibly with Kennedy shadowing him. The alternative there is to swap Kennedy for Karstens and have the latter shadow Joba.
If Kennedy pitches well tonight, though, it makes little sense to remove him from the rotation. Girardi has not ruled out a six-man pitching rotation, so pushing everyone back a day is an option. That would allow Joba some more time in between starts, and also help keep his innings in check for the rest of the season. The only drawback, of course, is that you’ll get fewer appearances from Wang. That’s an issue that certainly needs to be addressed.
The only issue I have with a six-man rotation is the bullpen. Are the Yankees prepared to only have six guys coming out of the pen? Recent history says they are not. As with many other potential moves, this could spell the end of Morgan Ensberg — and of Jason Lane, if the team decides to use Ensberg’s roster spot for a reliever rather than another position player.
Clearly, though, this is a good problem to have. As they say, you can never get enough good starting pitching.