Yesterday, relying on an unsourced rumor from Baseball Prospectus’ John Perrotto, we noted how Joba’s shoulder may be preventing any move to the bullpen. While the Yankees are clearly not going to move Joba to the pen any time soon, we eventually understood Perrotto’s piece to say that, while Joba’s shoulder is not injured, the Yanks may not believe he can warm up efficiently to be a reliever without putting too much stress on his shoulder.
Following up on our report, Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger asked Joe Girardi and Joba Chamberlain about any possible shoulder issues concerning the Yanks’ young ace. Both denied the report, sort of. Carig writes:
Is Joba Chamberlain a starter only because a shoulder problem prevents the pitcher from warming up fast enough to work out of the bullpen? Not so says the pitcher and Yankees manager Joe Girardi…”Not at all,” Chamberlain said after his start on Monday night. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Girardi also denied the snippet, which was listed under the “AL Rumors and Rumblings” section of Perrotto’s column on Sunday. “That’s not the reason we haven’t put him in the bullpen,” Girardi said. “The reason we haven’t put him in the bullpen is because we envision him as a starter.”
Now, with the way Carig posed the question, the Yanks had an out. Joba isn’t a starter only because of a shoulder problem; he’s a starter because that’s why he was drafted and that’s where his talent and values lie. In fact, Girardi said as much to the Yankee reporters.
What Perrotto reported though is that Joba hasn’t been warming up quickly. We witnessed that last month with his first inning troubles, and it has long been the case that starters need longer to warm up that relievers.
In the end, Joba is a starter now and in the future. The Yankees know this, and the team also recognizes that flipping him back and forth between the pen and the rotation is not the best for his long-term health. As Joba approaches his innings limit over the summer, the Yanks will have to come up with some plans for his arm. Right now, though, he’s healthy and throwing as well as he has in his brief Major League career.