Yanks: Joba’s shoulder not an issue


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.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Drew says:

    He does need his simulated inning to be effective. I guess that wouldn’t be too conducive to a bullpen spot. I don’t understand when all of this conjecture will stop.

    • Nady Nation says:

      Do we know if he’s still been doing the simulated inning routine since that first time he tried it? Guess he pitched a CG last night, if that’s the case.

      • Drew says:

        Yeah I’m pretty sure he did last night, I think Flash mentioned it on air.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:


          i suggested that an outing or two ago, and the idea was scoffed…

          i’m disappointed that JoeG isnt significantly smarter than i am :(

  2. Mike HC says:

    So when he was a reliever there were stories that he was built to go one inning and cannot pitch deep in games. Now that he is a starter there are stories that he needs time to warm up and get going, thus he is not built to pitch just one inning. The guy can’t win either way.

  3. Garry D says:

    I love how you frame the end of your article with “the yankees will have to come up with something” regarding Joba’s innings limit.

    Isn’t that just a convenient use of terminology so you don’t have to acknowledge he’s going to go to the bullpen?

    We should be worried about trying to win a World Series here. If Hughes can win at the major league level, and Wang reverts to form….you’re going to sacrifice the potential success of the season just so you can pamper the precious future of Joba as a starter?

    The bottom line is this. Wang is not going to stay in the bullpen. Hughes is not going to go in the bullpen. So here’s your choice:

    1. Hughes gets sent down to rot away in Triple A and “hurt his progress as a big league front of the end rotation pitcher”. His spot on the roster will be filled with either Edwar or Albaladejo.
    2. Joba gets sent to the pen (where’s he’s gonna end up anyway by the end of the year), and we have a capable starting 5, and a lock down 8th and 9th inning for the remainder of the season. Why is this so complicated? Either way you go you hurt the progression of a young, coveted pitcher. I’d rather take the path that best helps the organization this year.

    • V says:

      Would you rather win the World Series this year then miss the playoffs for the next five years, or go to the playoffs and lose in the ALCS this year and win 3 of the next 5 World Series?

      Yes, it’s a ridiculous hypothetical, but Joba becoming an elite starting pitcher is more likely to cause the latter and him being pushed to the bullpen because the Yankees have ‘too many’ arms is more likely to cause the former.

      Drop it. Please.

      • kunaldo says:

        exactly…precious future of joba = success in the future for the yankees

        • Brendo says:

          Why would we miss the playoffs with him in the pen the next 5 yrs? Because having a great pen isn’t good in some way?

          • Because if we don’t have a good starting rotation, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the starting rotation is.

            Joba is going to be in the starting rotation for the next 10 years. Because that’s where he helps us the most. And because the opportunity cost of finding a new starter to replace Joba in the rotation is way bigger than the opportunity cost of finding a new reliever to add to the bullpen when we leave Joba in the rotation.

            • Tampa Yankee says:


              If you put Joba in the pen, who is your 5th starter next year if Pettitte doesn’t come back, (personally I think he won’t) or after that if Pettitte does come back next year (he won’t be around forever)? IPK? – Just because he has a similar injury to Cone, that doesn’t mean he will become the next David Cone. Igawa? (pukes on self) Brackman’s far away etc. etc…

              No one has said that Joba has no value in the pen, juts that Joba has more value as a starter than in the pen.

            • handtius says:

              “Because if we don’t have a good starting rotation, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the starting rotation is.”

              What I believe you meant was…”Because if we don’t have a good starting rotation, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the bullpen is.”

              And…your gay.

          • donttradecano says:

            IF your starting pitchers dont leave with leads, the pen wont matter much.

    • mvg says:

      I think Ben meant something more along the lines of skipping starts for him as he gets closer and closer to the projected 140-150 IP cap he’s suspected to have. Using three guys to fill two spots in the rotation is a good way to pull that off, and also leaves you with an extra starter for make-up double headers/injuries/bad outings, and what have you.

      • Skipping starts or shutting him down entirely. If he can’t warm up without putting himself at greater risk of potential injury, the Yanks will just shut him down. I would be surprised if they limit his innings by moving him to the pen to tell you the truth.

        • Mike HC says:

          I think you may be sending some mixed signals here Ben:

          Benjamin Kabak says:
          June 2nd, 2009 at 8:45 am

          The other thing about Harper’s writing such a column that way is that, in a way, he’s bound to be right. Cashman will inevitably hae to put Joba into the pen later this year because Joba Chamberlain has an innings limit as a starter. This isn’t a secret, and yet, when it happens, Harper and Francesca will pat themselves on the back and say “I told you so. The Yankees are finally making the right move.”

          Cashman won’t do is say to everyone, “You know what, John Harper? I’m so sick of hearing you write every other day about how Joba should be in the bullpen even after a dominant eight-inning performance that I am going to cave to pressure. I’m going to put him in the bullpen just to get some peace of mind.”

          That is not going to happen even if John Harper types until his blue in the fingers.”

          How can it be impossible to avoid and surprise you at the same time?

          • I reassessed based on some conversations I’ve had since 8:45 today. I’m still on the fence, but I come down on “not surprised either way.” Final answer.

            • Mike HC says:

              fair enough … The only side I come down on this issue is that I don’t envy the person who has to make this decision. I guess that is why they get paid the big bucks, and also put their jobs on the line if they are wrong.

        • mvg says:

          I do question the idea of shutting him down, for a few reasons:

          1. Playoffs. Let’s be honest, future of the franchise or not, people will scream bloody murder if he’s not pitching in the postseason, and competitively he should be out there. And at the very least, we will be in contention. If the IP cap is truly ~150, then he has 96.2 innings left until that number. Right now he’s averaging 5.1 innings per start, but if he starts throwing 6 innings regularly, he’s gonna eat that up in 16 outings. Without skipping a start, that’s about 30 games he’ll be shut down for. Can he be shut down for an entire month and not risk injury starting back up for October?

          2. You are trying to build his arm to pitch a 6-month regular season, and one month-postseason (best case scenario). If he pitches five, and gets shut down, it’s not the worst thing in the world. But if you can give him a start off here and there, he pitches more or less throughout all six months. I’m no expert on physical training, but that seems to me that it may be the type of thing that helps him out next year.

          3. The roster. If he gets shut down before the yearly roster expansion, what do you do with him? Option him down to chill out in Scranton? Wang him to the DL? Have him take up space on the 25-man?

          I think he, Wang, and Hughes sharing two spots in the rotation is a better approach because of this.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      I love how you frame the end of your article with “the yankees will have to come up with something” regarding Joba’s innings limit.

      Isn’t that just a convenient use of terminology so you don’t have to acknowledge he’s going to go to the bullpen?
      Oh come on now. Seriously? There are other options than sending him down to the bullpen but considering you’re a B-Jobber you close you ears and say “I’M NOT LISTENING TO ANY ARGUMENTS AS USUAL!” You saying that JOBA TO TEH PEN after the season as the “only” solution just proved that.
      Skipping Joba’s starts once in a while can keep him in the majors and keep him from using up all of his innings.

    • All of this ignores the other, most obvious option: Joba starts until he hits his limit, and then he’s shut down. Hughes keeps starting in Scranton until Joba gets shut down, then he comes up, takes Joba’s starts, and when he hits his limit, he gets shut down.

      The team has said nothing, nothing at all, not a single solitary shred of evidence to indicate that they have any interest or inclination to move either Hughes or Joba to the bullpen for any portion of 2009. What they have said, numerous times, is that they’re both starters and they both need to be in a rotation somewhere to get innings and build their arms.

      They pitch until they can’t, and then they stop. We have agreed to contracts with dozens of other starters and relievers besides those two. We’ll try our best to win with the roster we have in October if that’s what the innings limits dictate for us.

      4-man playoff rotation:
      1) CC 2) AJ 3) Wang 4) Pettitte

      7 or 8 man playoff bullpen:
      Mo, Bruney, Coke, Aceves, Robertson, Melancon, Marte (if he’s healthy) and whomever else is the hot hand at the moment (or some other reliever we acquire in a trade)

      That staff is capable of winning a title Even without Joba or Hughes.

      No bullpen in 2009.

    • kunaldo says:

      by the way, fans like yourself are the reason we have to overpay for free agent starting pitching

  4. JP says:

    The “innings limit” applies to game innings, right? I mean, he keeps throwing and training, right?

    BTW, Francesa has backed off his “tantrum” mode with respect to the Joba questions today.

    Now, he has acquiesced to the idea that he’s a good starting pitcher, a potential ace, and is saying “it’s an issue of roster management. I say you play to win this year.”

    Thoughts? Anyone? Anyone?

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      I heard him say he’ll have to shut up if Joba ever pitches 8 innings. I guess he kept true.

      • kunaldo says:

        yeah…he was like as long as joba pitches in the 8th inning i’m ok…if he picks up the first 7 while he’s at it, it’s cool with me

        backed off, but i doubt he’ll ever outright admit he’s wrong

        by the way, it’s an innings limit, but pitches are certainly taken into account, right?

    • Stephen says:

      Yea, I almost never listen to him, but tuned in to hear what his reaction would be to Joba’s start last night, and he wasn’t completely ridiculous. I was shocked.

      • kunaldo says:

        ditto to that…i thought he would be like “he only had 5 strikeouts, he wasnt dominating!” or something

    • “it’s an issue of roster management. I say you play to win this year.”

      My thoughts?

      We’re not the Milwaukee Brewers.

      We don’t go all in and beat our pitchers like dead horses and blow out their elbow ligamentsto try and win a ring this year because this is our only chance this decade. We compete for a title every year.

      Yes, Mike Francesa, we play to win this year. No, Mike Francesa, that doesn’t mean you screw with the future by putting Joba in the bullpen when you know it’s going to delay his development. What you do is sign Andy Pettitte in the offseason even when you don’t necessarily need him so that you have enough depth to play to win this year WITHOUT screwing with your plans to win next year.

      • kunaldo says:

        nailed it

      • Nady Nation says:

        Question: If hypothetically both Hughes and Joba hit their limits by mid-August, what do we do about a 5th starter for the stretch run/playoff push? Or does it not really matter since it’s a 5th starter. Normally, I wouldn’t pay that much care to a 5th starter, but since 3 of our front 4 are Wang, who’s no guarantee after his start this year, Andy, who has been good but is getting up there in age and can break down at some point, and A.J., who is almost a crapshoot every time out (not to mention injury concerns), I think it’s a situation worth monitoring.

        • I think it’s kinda moot, because I personally believe, based on the Verducci principle I assume the organization is adhering to and based on Phil’s comments, that while Joba’s absolute innings ceiling is probably 150 IP, Hughes can go to 170-180 IP. I think Hughes doesn’t hit his cap in August, but rather in mid-late September.

          And, September 1st is the answer to a lot of these problems. When rosters expand, we can bring up anyone on the 40 man and throw spot starts to all kinds of players, particularly if we’ve got a nice lead in the division. Like Chris Garcia, or Mike Dunn, or even WLDR. And, with a big bullpen, it doesn’t really matter if they flame out, Wang style, we can throw 5 different guys in relief of them.

          Or, there’s this: In September, when we probably have Bruney and maybe Marte back, we can transition Aceves back out of the pen and give all the 5th starts to him. There’s that solution as well.

  5. Rob from NJ says:

    Hi all – long time reader, first time poster – i’m sorry this is off topic but has anyone driven to the new stadium yet? what is the parking situation like?

    Thanks again.

  6. Brendo says:

    Who in their right mind would think the Yankees would send him out there with a bad shoulder?

    • No one is saying that. There is a difference between “bad shoulder” and “takes longer to warm up.” As shocking as this might sound to the B-Jobber crowd, not every starter can be a reliever for just that reason. I’m sure Mike Mussina would have more to say on that issue if he were still around.

  7. Januz says:

    I am so sick of hearing Joba to the bullpen, because every game is life and death. Baseball is a marathon not a race, an Oriole game in July for the Yankees is NOT the same as a Ravens game in October for the Steelers. If limiting Joba’s innings is a real necessity, this team can afford to skip a Joba start and insert Wang (Even if it means a loss), because it benefits them in the long run.
    As for the 8th inning, there are still plenty of options available: Aceves, Bruney, Marte, Melancon, and trades come to mind, rather than risking the health of Joba.

    • Drew says:

      Insert Wang? Oh no you di’int.

    • Agreed wholeheartedly.

      Great comment, Januz.

    • Pete says:

      also, aceves can spot start here and there…i think once wang is capable of starting, he will return to the rotation, while hughes and joba switch off being a spot starter for a couple of rotations and a regular starter for a couple of rotations. This would have the added bonus of giving Sabathia a little more gas for the playoffs, keeping Pettitte strong through, and giving the small injury-prone burnett an occasional day off, as well as wang himself.

      • Pete says:

        that, i believe, is something along the lines of what ben meant by “the yankees will have to come up with something.”

  8. JP says:

    Francesa is still going on about “win this year.”

    None of the callers make the obvious retort: “No, Mike, not win this year, win every year.”

    He’s also saying, over and over: “We don’t know how good Joba is as a stawtuh…but we know how good he is outta da bullpen.”

    Everyone gives him a pass on this. We don’t know how good he’d be if he were put back in the bullpen now.

    I’d also like to know…Francesa says if Rivera went down, there is “absolutely no question” that Chamberlain would become the closer.

    I don’t think they would do that.


    • Observer283 says:

      I don’t think they would make him the automatic closer. And if they did, that would be stupid. The point has been made ad infinitum, but there is a reason why we paid CC more than 100 million dollars more than the Mets paid K-Rod. Shut-down starters are valuable. Even more valuable are young shut-down starters who are cost-controlled and years away from free agency.

      And yes, as pointed out above, the Yankees are not one of those teams that have to throw everything into their “one shot” to win a championship. We have the resources to compete every year. Throwing away a potential Ace to serve the narrow interests of the 2009 season = not very smart.

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