Well, this is sure to reignite a debate that ended a few months ago. When Joba Chamberlain is activated from the DL — and that day should be soon — the Yankees plan to bring him back as a reliever first.
Basically, the Yankees are pursuing this path in order to rehab Joba at the Major League level. By the time he’s ready to return to the mound, the Minor League season will be just about over, and the Yanks need to bring his arm up to strength, pitch count-wise, progressively. However, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with this idea.
Now, I know that the Yanks first put Joba into the pen this year and last as a way to limit his innings. As the team is being very conservative with their young phenom’s arm, it makes sense to keep his innings and pitch totals under wraps. But a nagging part of me wonders if moving him to the pen puts too much stress on his arm.
Joba’s an emotional pitcher, and if he’s throwing adrenaline-packed 8th innings, he may very well be putting more stress on himself physically than he would have as a starter. Plus, he spent his entire career, up until last August, as a starter.
Of course, this is just idle and unfounded speculation on my part, and I don’t believe the Yanks would follow a path that risks the long-term health of Joba Chamberlain. I can’t wait for him to return, and I hope his shoulder is back up to 100 percent. The Yanks could use the boost as they face a steep uphill climb to October.