So the Yankees have now played four games in a row against playoff-bound teams, and they’ve won three of them. Sadly, that seems to fall into the “too little-too late” category as the team is still nine games out of a playoff spot with just 12 games left to play.
Tonight, the Yanks played a crisp, quick game against the AL Central-leading White Sox. They scored two runs early on a Xavier Nady home run and two runs late on a Wilson Betemit double and a Johnny Damon single, and the White Sox never really had anything going offensively. Al Aceves continued to limit the number of opposing base runners. He allowed just one base runner an inning and struck out three. As a back-end starter, he’s certainly more than serviceable.
On the milestone front, Mariano Rivera recorded the 479th save of his career, and he is now second all-time on the saves list. Trevor Hoffman sits 73 saves ahead of Rivera, and Rivera’s attempts at catching Hoffman will depend upon the future of Trevor. Hoffman, soon to be 41, wants to return to the Padres next year, and as long as he keeps pitching, Rivera won’t catch him. Derek Jeter took an 0-fer and remains tied with Lou Gehrig on the all-time Yankee Stadium hit list.
While the Yanks won, that fact has taken second-stage to Dr. Jorge Posada. All the Yankee bloggers are writing about Posada, and when Joba came into pitch in the eighth tonight, the YES Network analysts went on and on about it for the entire inning.
To recap: Jorge Posada said on CenterStage that Joba should stay in the bullpen. “Leave him in the bullpen,” Posada said. “If you start him and he pitches 200 innings, he won’t be able to. You’re going to lose him. He’s going to get hurt.”
Now, this isn’t a new argument. We’ve been discussing this for the better part of fourteen months when the Yankees first decided that, for the first time ever in his career, Joba Chamberlain, a prospect with potential number-one starter stuff, should pitch out of the pen due to an innings limit. Unfortunately for everyone, Joba — a very, very good pitcher — thrived, and a lot of Yankee watchers can’t get over the fact that Joba as a starter is more valuable than what they’ve seen Joba do as a reliever.
But let me post two situations. The first is this: If I said to you that A-Rod should only pinch hit because he could get injured playing every inning of every game, you would think I was certifiably insane. If I said to you that CC Sabathia should only pitch the eighth inning every two or three days because he could get injured throwing complete game shut-outs every five days, you’d lock me up and throw away the key. This is no different. Until Joba shows that he absolutely cannot handle the demands of starting, he should start. That’s the bottom line.
Interestingly, someone bothered to ask Joba what he felt about all this, and as PeteAbe relates, Joba has always been and will always be a starter. He hasn’t minded coming out of the bullpen this year, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be as keen about it in the future. Joba is a potential ace, and to waste him in the bullpen would be further proof that the Yankees don’t know how to develop pitchers. Luckily, I have more faith in the people running the Yankees than I do in Jorge Posada, John Flaherty and any other former baseball player opining about Joba’s role with the team.