Guest Post: Skipping Joba now to save him later


The following is a guest post by Samuel Avro. While at work, Samuel Avro covers the energy industry and is the editor of Consumer Energy Report. If not making it to the New Yankee Stadium in the opening two months doesn’t annul the fact, Samuel is a die-hard fan of the Bronx Bombers. Those readers interested in submitting guest posts can contact me via e-mail at ben at riveraveblues dot com.

With Joba Chamberlain firmly entrenched in the starting rotation and the “Joba Rules” a mere memory of the Joe Torre Era, the much-hyped fan-favorite entered the season with a different, albeit strictly-enforced, set of rules.

Gone are the days when a pitcher’s arm wasn’t babied and their innings limit was simply the endurance they were able to sustain. What has increasingly become known as the “Verducci Effect” (due to SI writer Tom Verducci’s yearly compilation of young pitchers he deems at risk) has taken root in the management circles of MLB. While by no means gospel, the rule of thumb is that a pitcher under the age of 25 should not increase his innings total by more than 30 frames over the previous season.

As the Yanks’ righty pitched only 100.1 innings in 2008, the gospel would say that Joba should expect to reach his cap at the 140-150 inning range this season. (While according to Verducci’s rule it should be capped at about 130, Joba threw 110 professional innings in 2007 and could sustain an increase this year of around 40 innings.)

Since Joba has already pitched 40 2/3 innings, If he were to average even a little less than 6 innings per start, he’d be on pace to hit his cap well before the end of the season. The Yankees are left with two options which would allow Joba to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season, while continuing to build up arm strength for seasons to come: They can simply pull him early from a lot of starts; or they could skip his starts in the rotation every now and again, keeping some innings in the tank for later in the season.

To be sure, neither of the options is ideal. If the kid is able to cut down on the walks and can have enough pitches in his arm to allow him to go deeper into games, the last thing I’d want to see is his getting yanked prematurely in a game he is dominating. As far as skipping his turn in the rotation goes, no one knows how his arm will respond when deviating from its normal routine of throwing every five days.

What I’d like to see (for lack of a better idea) is somewhat of a hybrid mentality of the two options. Skip his starts every once in a while, and perhaps limit his innings in games where he isn’t at his best.

Currently, with Chien-Ming Wang coming off another stellar start for SWB, the Yankees have their chance to skip a start of Joba’s without messing around with the rotation. Depending on when Wang returns to the big-league club, the Yankees can easily skip one start of Joba’s without playing around too much with the rotation as a whole.

Since the scheduled starting day of Phil Hughes is not aligned with that of Wang’s, the Yankees — if Wang returns this week — can simply move A.J. Burnett‘s day up to Thursday (Joba’s next scheduled start) and have Wang pitch on Friday with Joba rejoining the rotation and filling in for the place of Hughes next week. If the Yankees opted to keep Wang in the minors for one more start, the same plan can be carried out next week when he rejoins the team. That is, the Yanks can push A.J.’s start up by a day to Tuesday with Wang taking Joba’s start on Wednesday. Thursday is an off day.

I know that many people will want the Yankees to just place him in the bullpen near the end of the season as a solution to the innings cap problem, but the days of tinkering with his pitching persona should be over. He’s a 23-year-old pitcher who has the potential to be one of the dominant starters of the next decade. Moving him to the bullpen should be used only as a last resort if the other options are not feasible.

Though the season is still young, the front office will have to start thinking of the solutions before it’s thrust upon them in the midst of a pennant race. They can’t wait to confront the issue when it has already become too late.

Categories : Guest Columns


  1. A.D. says:

    Unforunatly some of the early season ineffectiveness and injuries have not allowed the Yankees to skip Joba as much as they wanted. When Wang gets back to eating innings then they can miss him on some off days.

  2. The problem is, you lose too many games now and later won’t matter.

  3. Hobbes says:

    Great idea, Samuel. Good article, too!

  4. Matthew says:

    I think the Yankees should let Joba pitch, and then when the postseason rolls around (or whenever in September they no longer need a 5th starter), put him in the bullpen.

    It doesn’t stunt his development for next season and sures up the pen for October.

    • So here’s the issue: They “need” a 5th starter all season, and Joba will, at this rate, max out his innings by his 25th start or so. That will be in August. At that point, the Yanks will not move him to the pen but will shut him down completely.

      The idea now, as Sam puts it, would be to get him rest early on to make him available closer to the end of the year. I’d like to see them do this next week with the off-day so they don’t have to run any of their pitchers out there on three days’ rest, but beyond that, Sam raises some good questions right now.

      • Chris says:

        The problem is if you skip a few starts now, and then come August he gets injured, you’re in the same position next year of not being able to have him throw enough innings.

  5. Harry G says:

    It sounds like a good idea, but I have a bad feeling that Cash won’t handle it the right way. With all the injuries to our young pitchers last year, i’m afraid Joba will get injured later in the season when the weather gets hot, and I hope the Yanks don’t succumb to media pressure and put him back into the pen because of it.

    How about this very unconventional idea? because Hughes is also on an innings-limit, I think they could have them “share games” starting in late July or August. Meaning, Joba starts the game, pitches 3-4 innings, and Hughes pitches the next 3-4 innings. That way, U keep both of their innings down, U keep Hughes in the big leagues, and U don’t tax the bullpen every five days a la Joba’s first few starts last year.

    Does it make sense?

    • Makes sense. Actually alot of sense.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      It uses an extra roster spot that the Yankees cannot afford to waste.

      • Chris says:

        They currently have the following players on the roster:
        Angel Berroa
        Edwar Ramirez
        Jose Veras
        Brett Tomko

        Any of those spots would be better used to get Joba and Hughes some extra innings at the major league level.

    • A.D. says:

      Hurts development, they need to start and pitch normal full games. What could make sense is trying to align Phil & Joba, and call Phil up every few weeks to make a start.

    • Samuel Avro says:

      I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all, though I wouldn’t want him to pitch less than 5 innings per outing. I think it can be useful to save a few innings here and there, but it’ll need to be combined with other out-of-the-box plans in order to keep some innings in the tank to last out the season – and postseason.

    • whozat says:

      Every time someone brings up this conundrum, someone posits this idea. The same thing is still wrong with it…it ignores the long-term needs of the franchise.

      What starters need to do to be successful:

      1) be able to throw 100+ pitches in an outing
      2) be able to get outs on pitches 80-110, when they’re tiring
      3) be able to get guys out the third and fourth time they see them
      4) be able to grind out an outing on days when a pitch isn’t working
      5) build endurance to throw 180-200 IP in a season

      Limiting guys to a 4/5 inning outing nixes 1-4 on that list.

      • Exactly.

        If you could guarantee me that every time we had both Joba and Phil pitch half a game, the game would go into extra innings and end in the 13th, it would work.

        In a 9 inning game, there’s just not enough innings/outs/pitches to be shared amongst two starters who are both trying to build up arm strength and muscle memory.

  6. In general, isnt the 30 inning rule a little misleading though? Its not necessarily the amount of innings a pitcher pitches, but the amount of pitches he throws. For example a guy who goes 7 innings and throws say only 90 pitches, would be able to go further over the 30 innings than a guy who throws 110 in 7 innings. If has short, low pitch innings he would be able to throw more innings in the year. So shouldnt we be analyzing the amount of pitches a guy throws not the amount of innings?

    • Chris says:

      I agree that pitches are probably a better judge, but there are a lot of factors that play into it. For example, relievers tend to be more impacted by a lot of appearances than throwing a lot of innings (i.e. 100 innings in 100 games is more taxing than 100 innings in 50 games). Also, there are warm up pitches before games and before innings that should be included in the final tally.

      • Thats because your talking about pitching consecutive days in a row. Relief pitchers are a whole different animal because there constantly getting up to warm up, and pitching sometimes three nights in a row.

  7. Axl says:

    Instead of skipping him…why don’t we try to fix his control?? Because that’s actually what makes his “innings” so bad. If he was stellar throwing under 100 pitches each outing…the innings could be looked at differently and stretched out…but when you’ve walked 21 batters along with 40 hits in 40 innings??? He had 39 walks in over 100 innings last year. His year so far is going the way of the Dice K, though not nearly as good. His ERA is under 4.00 although his WHIP is a mindboggling 1.50. For a “prodigy” that everybody wants as a starter instead of a reliever…that’s nothing to be excited about. He averages 8.9 hits, 1.1 home runs, and 4.6 walks per 9 innings. How can you be successful with that??? And with that rate…the “innings” limit should have to be changed. Because 130 innings of decent average outings may make sense….but that isn’t the same as 130 innings with 85 walks and 130 hits now is it?? Even with a 8.9 K per 9 his SO/BB ratio is still lower than ever at 1.90.

    The key to the problem is…fix his location problem this year!

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      He’s very young. I look at the ERA and K/9 and figure that he will become more comfortable attacking the zone as he gains experience.

      • Axl says:

        I don’t know about “very” young. He’s 23 which is young. But look at Roger Clemens who had similar build. He wasn’t giving up as many hits as innings pitched…he walked a few but his WHIP was always below a 1.23 until his “decline” in 1995 even as a youngster.

        • Rob in CT says:

          So, wait…

          Joba isn’t Roger Clemens, therefore panic? Roger Clemens is a first-ballot HOFer (or was until his PED use came out).

          • Axl says:

            Did I say that? Please remind me where I said “he isn’t as good as Clemens so let’s panic”. Somebody brought up age being a factor and I brought up somebody of similar build who was perfectly fine at an even younger age…that’s all. Do you always get this defensive and angry when things are said that you know nothing about??

            • Rob in CT says:

              You brought up one of the top pitchers in baseball history as a comp for our 23-year old kid starter.

              Yes, Clemens’ control at age 23 > Jobas. So?

              • Also, you’re talking about 40 innings. 40! Joba has a career WHIP lower than 1.50, and if his walk rate is still so high after a full season, then we have a reason to want more control. Right now, you’re flipping out about nothing.

                • Axl says:

                  I wouldn’t say I’m “flipping out”…I’d like to call it “talking about logical relevant issues at hand”. But ok…

                • Rob in CT says:

                  Sometimes it’s easy to misread someone’s tone on the ‘net.

                  For instance, you thought I was angry. I assure you, I wasn’t.

                  We thought you were pretty worked up about Joba’s control issues this season. I’ve re-read your first post and, to me, it comes across as a bit of a rant.

                • I based “flipping out” on the fact that four of your sentences in the original comment ended in multiple question marks. I read that as online “flipping out.” Apologies if I’ve misconstrued that.

                • Axl says:

                  It’s ok. It’s hard to get a grasp on “feeling” in writing. I understand. Sometimes I come across as angry or out of control when I’m actually not. I get it all of the time…sorry for the mix up.

                • Chris says:

                  Does anyone seriously think that they’re not trying to work on his control? That should be done even if he has no innings limit, and I’m sure they’re working on it.

                • Axl says:

                  you suck

                • All right, Jim, you impersonate another commenter again and you’re getting bounced. I have no tolerance for that.

    • Fixing his control does not address the fact that he’d still reach his innings limit in mid-August.

      • Axl says:

        “Innings limit” is so arbitrary. Because the content of those innings could literally be ANYTHING. He could have thrown 150 pitches in 5 innings of work each game and that doesn’t get factored in?? I’m sure it would. And if that did…I’m sure if he were more successful…THAT would also be under consideration. No? Maybe I’m wrong and the management really is that ridiculous…I dunno…that’s why I’m asking…

        • Rob in CT says:

          I’m pretty sure the Yankees will be watching not just IP, but also the number of pitches thrown and the stress level of those pitches.

          Nobody throws 150 pitches in a game anymore. I doubt you will see Joba throw more than 110, ESPECIALLY if he’s struggling to get through 5 innings.

        • I agree. Pitch count should be taken into account when determining an innings limit.

          like i said above

        • Samuel Avro says:

          While it’s definitely true that innings can’t be the only factor taken into consideration, I don’t see any way around the problem even if he limits his pitches somewhat. He doesn’t stand a chance of making it through the entire season pitching every 5 days if the estimates of where they’ll cap him at are on target.

          Something innovative needs to be done to try and prolong his season.

          • Slugger27 says:

            didnt the Ms do something creative with felix when they brought him up? i remember them pitching him on 5,6,7 days rest towards the end of the season to prolong it… and also skipping a couple starts around the all star break

      • Yanks27 says:

        Could the Yanks have planned ahead to use Hughes and IPK at times during the year to spot start for Joba??? This helping develop them at the major league level but not just throwing them to wolves either. To bad about IPK. I think that could have worked to limit Joba and also help the other young starters out.

        Who else could they possibly bring up to fill those starts besides Hughes right now that’s ready to start in the bigs?

    • Rob in CT says:

      Joba is 23 years old, and the owner of a career 176 ERA+ (125 this season). Yes, he needs to improve his command so he can be more efficient. I think you will see him do that. Take it easy.

      • Axl says:

        Yeah, the majority of that career ERA+ being in the bullpen. He has an extremely small sample size in both. And you know, I’m an advocate of him remaining as a starter as opposed to the bullpen role…but not if he continues to look like this. He has like one quality start all year (albeit most of the starters are in the same boat…)

        I’m just saying. Even with 12 K’s and only 2 walks against the Red Sox on May 5th, he still threw over 100 pitches in 5.2 innings in a loss.

        Maybe this is how he’s going to pitch then?? I don’t know. But I thought it would be better…

        • Chris says:

          He has 106 innings as a starter and 59 as a reliever.

        • whozat says:


          Efficiency is a learned skill. Jon Lester (the current hallmark of Developed Young Pitching) was a 5-inning pitcher for two years before he turned into the guy we see now.

          You’d have been calling for Randy Johnson to the bullpen, Jon Lester to the bullpen, Scott Kazmir to the bullpen, AJ Burnett to the bullpen, Nolan Ryan…Go look at the early track record of more young power pitchers that came up at 22/23 years old, and then realize that you’re NOT bringing up logical issues. You’re worrying because Joba hasn’t shown perfect parallels to the greatest power pitcher of all time in his age 22/23 seasons.

          • Axl says:

            He’s been compared to Verlander NUMEROUS times on this blog. Verlander never walked this many people or allowed the same amount of hits as innings pitched…

  8. Rob in CT says:

    I like this plan. Well, unless Hughes gets smacked around in his next start ;)

  9. Question – Do we actually know that Cash/Girardi intend to abide by the Verducci Rule? I know this seems like a silly question since they have proven to be very conscientious in grooming their young pitchers, but it’s a question that’s been rattling around my head all year. Obviously if someone can point to a quote/interview where they say as much, that’ll answer my question, but I don’t remember them say, explicitly, that they won’t just let Joba continue to pitch even if he hits the 140 inning barrier in August.

    I don’t know… I’m just not so sure they don’t intend to just let it ride with Joba in the rotation this season.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      I think they’ll keep an eye on him and possibly have him reduce his between start bullpen session workload and let him “save the bullets” for the regular games. I also think they’ll skip him whenever possible, for example:

      Joba is scheduled on a Friday, game gets rained out
      Joba gets skipped, works out in BP sessions
      Pitcher X on the 40-man in SWB and regular Saturday starter pitch the two ends of the make up doubleheader

      That make sense?

    • Samuel Avro says:

      I’ve seen Cashman quoted in the papers numerous times that Joba’s innings were being closely watched, although he has always refrained from saying where they were going to cap him at.

      I don’t think it’s a question as to “if” they’re going to shut him down once he reaches a certain point, but, rather, a question of when they will and how they can limit the impact it’ll have on the team.

      • jsbrendog says:

        duh, its obvious, trade veras and reegie corona for halladay so he can take over. come on cashman

      • See, that’s what worries me though. They’re very careful to say they’re “watching” him, but they have NEVER discussed what the plan actually is (i.e. shutting him down, limiting the length of his outings, etc.). Which, obviously, doesn’t mean they don’t intend to shut him down when he reaches an appropriate number of innings pitched. Still, it’s something to keep in mind. We all assume they intend to shut him down, but that might not be the plan.

        • Samuel Avro says:

          I think they’re just going about this with the “Mangini approach”, though I do agree with that route in this instance.

          There’s no sense in letting opposing teams no what our plans our. Case in point: Last season, when Joba was building up his arm strength and they announced how many pitches he was cleared for, teams set their goal to getting him out of the game early by taking more pitches than they normally would. Compounded with his control issues, it never allowed him to go deep into the games.

          But do I think there’s a chance that he’ll pitch every 5 days, throwing roughly 6 innings per start, and still make it through the entire season? No way.

        • andrew says:

          Well, it’s possible they are still trying to come up with a good plan. Also, the plan be altered if Hughes starts pitching really well or Wang never gets right, or Burnett goes down… there are a lot of factors that go into it. I think they are probably just going to monitor him for now, and when July/August role around, come up with a plan that is best suited for Joba and the team.

  10. Whizzo The Wizw says:

    Whizzo solves the problem thusly:

    Yankees take a 45 game lead on August 5th. The rest of the AL conceeds on August 6th.

    Innings limit? Whizzo don’t need no stinkin’ innings limit!

    Or just skip his start every three weeks or so. Whizzo believes the call-up rule a player must be in the minors for 10 days between big league call-ups, so Phil should be able to ride the Scranton shuttle this season to replace Joba every three or so weeks.

  11. ADam says:

    I love this idea, I posed it to a friend the other day. Give Hughes one additional start, then give Joba his spot in the rotation when he (PH) is sent down, and then you can of course do this once more over the all star break and maybe once very late in the season.

    I don’t think it hurts development, I would rather the yanks be cautious with Joba then blow his arm out.

    Great Idea and Post Sam

  12. jsbrendog says:

    to go along with axl and donttradecano I would think that it should be based on something more than just innings. Couldn’t they also factor in pitch count, as that, i feel, is an equal or fractionally larger factor?

    basically take his innings. let’s say he is scheduled for 150. set in stone. So he reaches 150 but taking his average pitchers per start he has averaged 90 pitches a start. I feel a good limit is 100 pitches.

    So then, if in his 150 innings he has gotten through 25 starts and has onyl thrown 2250 pitches, then taking those “extra” 10 pitches per start then gives him 250 more pitches before he breaks that 100 pitch per game limit. with those 250 “extra” pitches I think he oculd pitch at least 2 more games going 6 or 7 innings and still not be an injury risk.

    is this crazy? cause as i was typing it i had to go back over it to make sure it made sense…but it makes sense to me

    • Makes sense to me. Innings pitched is too arbitrary of a limit. A three pitch inning would count towards his innings limit, when lets be honest three pitches didnt take alot of work.

    • So we do it by pitches. He threw 1710 pitches last season and is at 680 this year. In an ideal world, 30 innings is about 480-500 pitches. So that still puts 2210 innings and his cut-off date in the middle of August.

      • As a comparison: A.J. Burnett reached that number of pitches on July 18 last year. He throws more per start than Joba, but that still leaves the Yanks Joba-less by August if they don’t start skipping him soon.

      • Axl says:

        THEN FIX HIS CONTROL!!!!! Ahhhh!!!! My head is about to explode…

        • andrew says:

          If we fix his control, he will just go deeper into games (which, of course, is great), but it doesn’t solve the issue at hand. If Joba throws 5-6 innings per start (or 90-100 pitches, however you want to look at it) he will be nearing his innings/pitch count cap in August. August is not the end of the season. Issue arises. Samuel makes coherent, logical guest post. Debate ensues. Axl makes comment that is nice in theory, but doesn’t really relate to the issue at hand.

          • Axl says:

            Well it would absolutely relate if the “joba rules” were perhaps a little more clear…or at least a little more sensible…

            • andrew says:

              I just think this comment that you made below is the issue with your argument: How does 110 pitches in 5 innings equal the same amount as 105 pitches in 8 innings

              Joba, this season, will not be a pitcher capable of doing that. He may be next year, he may be in 3 years, he may never be. We don’t know. But I think we can all agree, even with fixing his control, he will likely not being increasing his innings by 3 innings per start while decreasing his pitch count by 5 pitches per start. If he is able to do that in 3 years, SUPER!, but the issue at hand is his innings limit this year. In 3 years when he’s able to do that, his inning limit will be 210 or so, so it won’t matter anyway. But for right now the 5-6 inning, 100 pitch, Joba is the one we have. These debates are trying to address the issue from that point of view. Yes, fixing his control is nice. No, it won’t change this issue.

      • jsbrendog says:

        damn you kabak!

    • Axl says:

      Common sense tells me that’s what they will do…hence my whole “fix his control to up the innings” post was created…but nobody liked it because it sounded sort of “anti-yankee” though it really wasn’t. It’s common sense. You fix Joba’s control to throw less pitches to become more effective…the pitches go down and the innings go up. How does this not make sense?? How does 110 pitches in 5 innings equal the same amount as 105 pitches in 8 innings?? I’m having a hard time understanding how “innings” and ONLY “innings” are being used here. Doesn’t make sense to me.

      So basically…the more effective a starter Joba becomes…the LESS he’s going to pitch. LMFAO. That’s a real good rule to stick by. LOL What a bunch of bafoons…

    • To quote a quote from an old RAB article:

      “Innings sometimes provide a ballpark estimate, but pitch context and mechanical consistency tell you much much more. If Pitcher A throws 90 pitches and allows ten baserunners in five innings, while Pitcher B throws 110 pitches and allows six baserunners in seven innings, Pitcher A’s going to be doing more damage to himself, since he’s working in more stressful situations. That’s what wears a guy out and puts him at risk for injury – having to focus on every individual pitch with men on is way more tiring than cruising through the bottom of the order with the bases empty. That much we know. So why not account for it when you’re keeping track of a young pitcher’s progress?”

      If Joba could limit his pitches and his baserunners he would probably be able to avoid the 30 inning limit. And while the Verducci rule has proven to be succesfull, there are probably just as many instances where the opposite happened.

  13. Moshe Mandel says:

    ESPN projects him to be on pace for 162 innings. Skip him three times and they should be fine.

  14. Just curious… Say the Yankees have to shut Joba down in August and the roster is roughly the same then as it is now (so, assuming they haven’t made a trade to acquire another starter)… Who fills in as the fifth starter? Are they just going to toss prospects in there and see who can do the job?

    • Axl says:

      Kyle Snyder

    • Casey Fossum.


      In all seriousness, let’s say we skip Joba two more times in the rotation, and line it up so he gets shut down at the end of August. September, when rosters expand, we can take all those pitchers on the 40 man and bring them up and divvy up the 5 or 6 September starts that Joba’s turn in the rotation would have amongst them. That would include, provided they also haven’t been shut down:

      Phil Hughes
      Al Aceves (although we’d have to re-transition him out of the bullpen)
      Chris Garcia
      WLDR (although he’ll probably end up in the bullpen, he’s still a starter at present)
      Brett Tomko (although I’m hoping he’ll have long since been DFA’d for a real pitcher)

      And then, if we can clear 40-man spots for them, possibly
      George Kontos
      Zach McAllister
      Alan Horne
      Ivan Nova

      Think about it: Say we’re up 4-7 games in September, and CC, AJ, Wang, and Pettitte are al cruising along and the offense is clicking. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to give Phil a couple starts, and then say one each to Aceves, Chris Garcia, WLDR, Kontos, Horne… maybe even Brackman.

      • Axl says:

        We could always bring back “Sir” Sidney Ponson…or maybe try to get Cy Young candidate Ross Olehndorff back on the squad haha

        While we’re at it…where’s Sal Fasano when you need him…and perhaps we can get Royce Clayton to spell Jeter at SS lol

      • Oh totally, I agree. It’s just something I’ve been a little worried about all year. I mean, there’s no guarantee, however confident I may be in this team, that they’ll be up 4-7 games at that point, nor is there any guarantee that there won’t be other holes in the rotation for whatever reason. It’s just a possible problem looming on the horizon. Fingers crossed.

  15. Felix Hernandez jumped over 100 innings and while he didnt pitch well, he made 31 starts that year and 30 the year after.

    Johan Santana jumped by 50 in 03 (some in the pen), then by 70 in 04 and made 34 and 33 starts respectively the following years.

    Sabathia jumped 50 innings from 06 to 07 while still relatively young and made 34 starts the year after.

    Halladay jumped 130 innings from 01-02 and made 34 and 36 starts the years after. And only twice did he not make 30 starts after those points.

    Thats 4 of the top pitchers in baseball who didnt fall victim to the rule, and theirs more i just dont want to look. So while the Verducci rule has proven to be effective, it shouldnt be looked at as the end all be all.

    • Ages:

      Johan: 23 & 24
      Sabathia: 26
      Halladay: 25

      • C.C. disqualified. 25 or younger.

      • whozat says:

        minor league innings count too

        So, Halladay went

        1999: 150
        2000: 140
        2001: ~180
        2002: 240

        so, he jumped from 180 at age 24 to 240 at age 2002. Also, he’s kind of a model of health (except for that busted leg) and Joba’s not.

        • didnt look at that, take off felix then.

        • Chris says:

          A model of health except for the shoulder injury in 2004, which could have been related to his rapidly increasing workload from 2001-2003.

          • Or it could have been a freak injury.

            • Chris says:

              Breaking your leg on a line drive is a freak injury. Injuring your shoulder after having very high workloads the previous 2 years, including significant increases in innings both years is not a freak injury.

              The problem is that every single injury could be characterized as a freak injury. Mark Prior? He just had a freak injury. It had nothing to do with Dusty Baker. Jon Lester? He’s just struggling, it has nothing to do with his 90 inning increase last year.

              For every exception you have, there are far more pitchers that follow the rule – you just don’t remember them because they get injured and aren’t the same after that.

              • Has Halladay had that injury again? Priors been hurt ever year. And maybe Lester is stuggling because he really is no that good?

                2006: 4.76 ERA
                2007: 4.57 ERA

                One good year doesnt erase two bad ones

                • whozat says:

                  No, but when it’s your age 24 season, and you’re a power lefty that’s always posted good K:BB ratios in the minors, it’s a good indicator that you’re not 6.57 ERA bad.

                  Also, the problem here is that we KNOW there is a body of pitchers that have exhibited these injury problems. Nitpicking at single examples is pointless. We can go back and forth all day (Marcum and McGowan, for instance), or you can accept that there is a statistically significant link between large increases in workload before age 25 and injury.

                  Does this mean that there are no counterexamples? No. Does this mean that we know exactly how to measure “workload” or what the correct increase is, or even which parameters govern the safe increase for different pitchers? No. Does not knowing that stuff mean that we should ignore the initial finding? NO.

                • Chris says:

                  He did have cancer at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, which probably impacted his performance.

          • whozat says:

            A good point.

        • Axl says:

          “so, he jumped from 180 at age 24 to 240 at age 2002.”

          Interesting…I wouldn’t have guessed he was that old lol

          • whozat says:

            My point is that 1,978 years is the appropriate amount of time to take to increase 60 IP in your workload.

      • andrew says:

        I agree with that. The Verducci Effect is merely a guide, and an imperfect guide at that. If Joba pitches 31 innings more than last year, It’s not a cause for concern in my book.

    • Chris says:

      Felix threw 149 innings in 2004, 84 in 2005 and 191 in 2006. The increase would be 40 for this case.

      Hallady threw 175 in 2001, and 240 in 2002 for an increase of 65.

      It’s not an absolute rule, but are you willing to risk losing Joba to find out if he’s one of those pitchers than can handle the extra workload? Particularly considering his injury history.

      • whozat says:

        True. It seems absurd to me to take a kid who’s already missed time with a shoulder injury and just ignore what is known about dangerous workload increases because…well, I don’t know why.

        I mean, there are more examples of young guys getting hurt as a result of pitcher abuse than there are of it not happening. The correlation is statistically significant. Just because there are counterexamples doesn’t mean the correlation does not exist.

        • Ok but say Hughes doesnt pitch well and Wang never regains his form, then what do you do? Throw journymen in their every fifth day in the middle of a pennant race?

          • Chris says:

            To me the question is:

            Are you willing to sacrifice a chance to have a top pitcher for years to come in exchange for a better shot at winning the World Series this year?

            At some point, you’re probably going to have to bite the bullet and blow past the innings limit, but you want to make sure that’s giving you a great chance to win the series, because it doesn’t make sense to blow out someone’s arm just so you can lose in the ALDS.

            A similar case could be made for pitchers under 25 throwing no-hitters. If you look at their careers after the no-hitter, they’re pretty bad (see: Justin Verlander and Clay Buchholtz).

            • whozat says:

              Well, Verlander has come back in a big way this season — his D has been letting him down a lot, because his FIP is over a point lower than his ERA.

              But, yeah, his velo was down by around 1.5MPH last year, and he pitched like crap.

      • yea i messed up fangraphs doesnt show the minors

        fail on my part.

  16. Reggie C. says:

    Abuse points
    - Isn’t that the terminology that best captures the events that increase the probability of injury to pitchers? Aren’t those events that constitute “abuse points”, that what Joba must avoid? Joba can have smooth outings in which he goes 6/7 and doesn’t rack up any abuse.

    What Axl says is basically right. Joba’s issues with walks over his first 40 innings have elongated innings and made him throw an inordinate amount of pitches per start. I understand the innings caps argument, but basically the reasonable expectations remain that Joba will cut his walk rate down and have smoother outings.

    Is it really such a big deal if he pitches another 120 innings in the regular season if Joba is on command with location?

    • whozat says:

      Here’s what frustrates me:

      1) We have no idea what metric the Yanks are using to track Joba’s workload
      2) Some here assume that they’re going with a naive inning cap
      3) People start freaking out about it and calling everyone “bafoons”
      4) Despite people pointing out that increased pitch efficiency will STILL result in the need for a workload cap, we’re still fighting about it

      • 5) one smart commentator makes a point that an innings cap isnt always necessary.

        • whozat says:

          6) Other people realize that generalizing from special cases is a common logical fallacy — and that his data is wrong.

        • To be honest, I’m sure pitches are factored into the Verducci Effect. It’s probably just an average number of pitches that pitcher that is 25 years or younger throws. I have a hard time, very hard time, believing that number of pitches is straight up ignored. And it is not as if this is revolutionary. Tim Dierkes had a post on RotoAuthority prior to the start of the season about the amount of pitches, and who to be careful of.

          • whozat says:

            To be specific, the “Verducci effect” as put forth by Verducci really just talks about innings. Other people have worked on refining metrics for gauging pitching workload, and one would hope that the Yanks are using one of those more advanced notions — coupled with strength checks and stuff — to actually gauge how he’s doing.

            Baseball Prospectus put forth Pitcher Abuse Points ten years ago, and I’m sure people have continued to revise the work from there.

            • But the way I look at it, and I’m not saying this is right or arguing that this is right, is that say a pitcher has a easy 1, 2, 3 inning. And then has a inning that a few batters are walked and he really struggled. I see it as more of an average pitches per inning, and that why the inning is used. Also, if we were to use pitches, it would be fairly hard to gage. How many extra pitches is 30 innings? Isn’t that entirely determined by the pitcher?

              • whozat says:

                Well, which 30 innings were “extra”? The easy ones, or the hard ones? ;-)

                Innings are a very crude tool. Ten years ago, BP tried to assign “abuse points” to outings where pitchers went different lengths past 100 pitches. It’s perhaps possible that even more granular analyses of the data could look at long innings, long innings late in games, pitches “under duress” and find better correlation. Maybe King Felix could jump up a bunch of innings year-over-year because he dealt with long innings exceptionally rarely. Maybe Sean Marcum got hurt because he was constantly getting pushed to throw 30 pitches in his last inning of work or something. I don’t know.

                I’d hope that the Yanks do, though :-)

      • Axl says:

        So basically you just searched up and down the page for whatever I said that made sense and claimed that it bothered you…

        Well at least you told me…I was sitting here waiting all this time wondering…

        • whozat says:

          Nah, I just actually read your comments, saw people agreeing with you, and decided to collect it all in one place so that people would see how ridiculous it is.

          We have NO IDEA what metric they’re using, so you assigned to them a stupid metric and then started ranting about it. How does that make sense?

          • So wait. You READ his/her comments?

          • Axl says:

            This whole post is based on them using the same method you’re getting furious at me about. Why do you pinpoint me and leave everyone else alone? Because it’s not exactly all rainbows and ice cream cones?? Everything has to be one dimensional on this blog??

            And in the same breath…how do YOU even know what I actually meant? You don’t. You can assume and pick apart certain things I’ve written down…but YOU can’t possibly understand everything I believe in reguarding this topic either.

            Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. – Doc Holliday

            • whozat says:

              “And in the same breath…how do YOU even know what I actually meant? You don’t.”

              Because you have repeatedly put your thoughts down in writing, and I can read.

              Lemme get this straight…according to you, I can’t disagree with you because I don’t know what’s in your mind? Anything you actually SAY is not subject to argument because it may not accurately reflect what it is you’re thinking? How, then, is there ever any basis for discussion?

              “Why do you pinpoint me and leave everyone else alone? Because it’s not exactly all rainbows and ice cream cones?? Everything has to be one dimensional on this blog??”

              You’re the one who’s been the most illogical, insistent, and unwilling to listen to people who disagree with you. Also, I dinged donttradecano for using flawed data in one of his points above, so I’m not picking on you. You just think I am because you don’t deal well with people challenging you to back up your points of view with facts and logic.

              • Axl says:

                Illogical? I used the same “rules” this entire post is based on…and I commented on them with stats and facts. YOU got extremely upset because you didn’t want to hear it and started a crusade against my rational thoughts for some reason.

                People actually agreed with me. They didn’t agree with me just on a whim…they agreed with the stats and facts that I had provided. That’s usually how it goes, you know…

                • whozat says:

                  “Extremely upset” is a humorous overstatement.

                  As for your usage of stats…every time someone points out flaws in your reasoning, you just ignore them or attack them. Yeah, you threw out a bunch of numbers, but you didn’t actually draw conclusions that make sense. You constantly cherry pick the numbers that support your belief that Joba should be in the bullpen based on < 60 IP as a reliever in his entire career. Because he’s not Roger Clemens and he walks more guys than Verlander, you conclude that he should be in the pen. You ignore the larger number of other quality pitchers that struggled with command when they were 23 and in the bigs — if they weren’t still in AA or AAA.

                  Merely writing numbers down is not “using stats”…using them to draw well-reasoned conclusions is.

                • Axl says:

                  See you’re getting extremely angry and you don’t even really know what I was talking about. I don’t think Joba should go to the pen. I’ve always said he should be a starter. My point was that the “innings” rule is stupid and unclear. People agreed. You were outraged and went on a war-path thereafter… all while misunderstanding my intentions to begin with…

        • Ok, I joked about the martyr routine above, but seriously, you should cut it out. People come here to share ideas and argue. A lot of people disagree with each other. There are a lot of commenters here I think are very intelligent, and whose opinions I respect, who I disagree with regularly. Present your ideas, keep an open mind when it comes to other people’s ideas, and have fun with it. There’s no need to insult people who disagree with you or to continually whine about people disagreeing with you.

          • Axl says:

            Who are you talking about here? Me? Or the person who started a crusade against me and my beliefs on the board?

            • You, Axl. I responded directly to your comment. And you went ahead and whined again in your response to me. Good grief, man. lol

              • Axl says:

                Haha I just think it’s funny how everybody is against me for no reason. I mean sure I was a little over the top at first but I’ve brought nothing but logical debate since that people have been OUTRAGED by for no apparent reason…

                This Wozat guy accuses me of things and claims I provided no facts…in which I did…and he gets praised for his inaccuracies and the person falsely accused gets burned at the stake for his rational beliefs.

                It’s getting pretty ridiculous to say the least.

                • Haha I just think it’s funny how everybody is against me for no reason. I mean sure I was a little over the top at first…

                  They’re not against you for no reason, Axl, they’re against you because you generally come in “a little over the top at first”.

                  It’s the pattern you’ve established. You yourself have acknowledged that you often go overboard initially. You’ve taken steps to correct it, and we thank you.

                  You need to keep taking more steps, buddy.

                • I don’t know man… Maybe things aren’t as they seem to you? You’re the only one feeling persecuted, and plenty of people have disagreed with each other. And this isn’t an isolated incident, you seem to feel this way quite often. Just a thought. And whatever, even if someone really is picking on you, just state your case as well as you can and be done with it. Enough with the endless bitching and moaning about being “burned at the stake.”

  17. I like this idea a whole lot.

  18. Doug says:

    Question: why is “place him in the bullpen near the end of the season as a solution to the innings cap problem” the last resort?

    I agree that it would be best not to tinker around with his role, but his long-term health should be the biggest consideration here. And that means adhering to some type of innings or (even better) pitch count limit. Now, in my mind, other ways of accomplishing this, like skipping starts, can be taxing on both the arm and the brain. How’s Joba gonna handle not pitching at all for 10 or 11 days a few times from here on out? How’s his stuff and especially his command going to be when it IS his time to pitch? Too “much” stuff because of too much rest might mean less command and control.

    Me? I’d have him pitch on his reguarly scheduled 5th day from now until he’s 20 or so innings away from his 150 (or whatever) innings limit. Then put him in the pen for the rest of the season, getting him to his limit, so that he can go 180-200 next season for us.

    And, by the way, a positive by-product of doing this: we have our much needed 8th inning guy for down the stretch and into the playoffs (hopefully)

    • Here’s the problem with that concept:

      In addition to some sort of cap on overall work (whether you want to do this via capping innings, pitches, abuse points, whatever, it’s moot, the only thing that matters is limiting workload some sort of way), the other dominant pitching health theory is that pitchers should have a routine.

      Meaning, starters should start, pitch every five days, and not do the bullpen routine of warming up with irregular rest intervals as dictated by game situation.

      I’d rather not re-increase Joba’s injury risk by having him pitch every other day in September after training his arm on how to pitch deep into games every fifth day.

      Also, we’ll already have our much needed 8th inning guy for the stretch and playoffs. His name is Brian Bruney.

      • Doug says:

        I agree on having a routine. And that’s why I’m not on board with him be skipped every 3 or 4 starts. I think pitching every 5th day and knowing you are going to be out there, is important. But I guess I’m also of the belief that going from the rotation to the pen wouldn’t be overly taxing (I could be wrong obviously). Certainly wouldn’t be as difficult as going from the pen to the rotation (we saw last year with Joba, it takes a month to stretch your arm out making that transition).

        And, as far as the 8th inning goes, I love thuney, but you wouldn’t be more comfortable with Joba out there?

        • Doug says:

          meant bruney of course (computer’s moving at a snail’s pace. tried to type ahead. obviously didn’t work)

        • whozat says:

          I’d be more comfortable with Joba out there for innings 1-6, handing a lead over to the bullpen than I would be with Aceves out there handing a small deficit to the pen.

        • And, as far as the 8th inning goes, I love Bruney, but you wouldn’t be more comfortable with Joba out there?

          I would. But that increased comfort would be negated and consumed by the larger discomfort I’d feel about having our ace starting pitcher pitch in a situation outside of his established routine. The marginal upgrade he presents over Bruney is small. Very small. Brian Bruney has demonstrated his ability to retire three batters in the 8th inning on numerous occasions. That small marginal upgrade just isn’t worth the increased injury risk of putting Joba in the bullpen, even if that increased injury risk is also small.

  19. dkidd says:

    i’m assuming the yankees have several plans depending on what the standings look like in july/august. i’m also assuming that every one of the plans involves joba starting all the way through the world series if need be

    lining up phil with joba and having him take every third start (or whatever is required) seems like the best idea to me

  20. thurdonpaul says:

    how does CC going 8 1/3 with a 2 hitter, an MO comes in to finish off a 4-2 win sound ?

  21. Bryan V says:

    I like my proposal better, which you can read about my blog by clicking my name above.

  22. Bryan V says:

    Brian Bruney is a good 8th inning guy (or should be). But Joba is better. And there’s nothing wrong with having Bruney for the 7th inning.

    • whozat says:

      He’s an even better starting pitcher, which is where he should stay.

      • Bryan V says:

        The debate is over the FACT that Joba can not start all year long. At least by going on regular rest he can’t.

        So something has to be done. And that’s either skipping starts or leaving early (which is what this gentleman is saying), or keep him starting regularly and put him in the ‘pen later.

        • Skipping starts is better than putting him in the rotation. At least with skipping starts, he can at least prepare for some semi-irregular use, whereas in the ‘pen it’d be irregular use on irregular rest, which would stunt his development, IMO, much more than skipping a start here and there would.

        • Or by not skipping any starts, just letting him pitch as a starter, and then shutting him down when he reaches whatever limit they’ve set for him.

          Yes, Joba represents a marginal upgrade over Bruney. No, that marginal upgrade is not worth jeopardizing the health of Joba Chamberlain the future ace. I’d be perfectly happy with just shutting him down when he reaches his limit rather than moving him to the bullpen and having him warm up on irregular rest. I read your post, and while it’s generally reasoned soundly, I’d still prefer that those last 20 innings of Joba Chamberlain come in the form of 3 starts in late August/early September rather than in 15-20 appearances in all of September on irregular rest.

          • Bryan V says:

            You wouldn’t even want Joba out of the ‘pen for the playoffs?

            It’s a fine thought, but the idea of not having Joba to pitch in any sort of situation doesn’t sound too appealing.

          • Yes, Joba represents a marginal upgrade over Bruney. No, that marginal upgrade is not worth jeopardizing the health of Joba Chamberlain the future ace.

            This is key. The upgrade of Chamberlain over Bruney does not come close to making up for what would most likely be a big downgrade from Joba to whomever would be taking his spot.

            • Bryan V says:

              Either shut him down after regular rested starts, before the season ends. Or put him in the bullpen after regular starts, and he’s about 20 innings away from that limit.

              I really don’t like the idea of skipping starts. Routine is a very good thing for a developing starter. And he wouldn’t get routine by starting and stopping like that.

  23. dkidd says:

    here is no way the yankees will not have joba starting deep into the playoffs

    • dkidd says:

      there is no way

    • “there is no way the yankees will not have joba starting deep into the playoffs”

      There are numerous ways the Yankees will not have Joba starting deep into the playoffs.

      Like my granddaddy used to say, “The less a man makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to look foolish in retrospect.”

      • Doug says:

        tommie, question for you. do you honestly see the yanks going the route of shutting joba down in mid-august? while it may be optimal long-term, just don’t see the yankee brass ever considering this option.

        • I think Yankee brass has given Cashman license to safeguard his young pitchers at least one more year. I could be wrong, but Hal seems content to give Cashman carte blanche here.

          As he should.

          • Doug says:

            When I wrote “yankee brass”, I meant Cashman as well. I just don’t see it happening. And maybe it’s because he’d be absolutely ripped in the media. In no way am I justifying making baseball decisions based on laypeople’s opinions and perception, but how do you explain to the casual fan that you’re sitting the franchise’s “savior” for the final 6 weeks of the season and the playoffs?

      • dkidd says:

        i would rather have hughes take 3-4 of joba’s starts in aug/sept then shut joba down and have to count on wang and/or andy in a best of 5

        • Doug says:

          and me, i’d rather move joba from the rotation to the pen when he’s within 20 innings or so of his innings limit. greatly improves the pen and i’d have no problem placing my trust in andy or wang for a game.

        • dkidd, I would “rather” have Joba as well. I’d rather have him starting or relieving or pitching in some way.

          But it’s not prudent to screw around with Joba’s health, so we’re going to have to accept Wang or Andy or Bruney or Marte in a best of five.

          For consolation’s sake, all those guys are still good pitchers, you know.

          • dkidd says:

            i don’t want to risk joba’s health and i have no idea what metric the team is using, but if hughes taking a few of joba’s starts in august and september is the difference between joba getting shut down and joba starting in the playoffs, i think it would be worth considering

  24. NC Saint says:

    Are there any rigorous attempts out there to fine tune the Verducci Effect findings with pitch count or TBF or anything else like that. I’ve poked around and didn’t find anything immediately. I can think of any number of reasons why IP would be important on its own, but it’s hard to believe that the number of at-bats or pitches within those innings has *no* predictive value here.

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