In last night’s recap, I brought up the issue of how to handle Joba going forward. The immediate idea is that since his next start falls on an off-day, it’s best to skip him there. Not only can you manage his innings that way, but by doing that you line up A.J., CC, Joba, and Pettitte against Boston, rather than having Mitre in the mix. But what happens after that? The Yanks are going to have to skip him a few more times if the plan really is to have Joba pitch through the end of the season.
After Boston, Joba would have to pitch the series opener in Seattle, and again in the middle game of the Oakland series. The Yanks have an off-day on the 20th, which would be Mitre’s turn in the rotation, but they pretty much have to skip him that turn, because they have three games in Fenway. Yet because of the way the schedule is laid out — the Yankees have off-days surrounding the three-game set at Fenway — we might see Mitre tossing the series opener.
If the Yanks just push everyone back and pitch Mitre on Friday the 21, they could skip Joba again because his start would fall on the 24th, another off-day. He would be on tap to start again against the White Sox on the 29th. That would give him four starts in August, and at six innings a start would put him at roughly 135 innings, and if he’s pitching well it could put him near 140. That would appear to be right up against his limit, or at least what we’ve assumed is his limit.
So what about September, then? If Joba’s innings limit is 150, it’s pointless to even go through the schedule. He’d have just two starts left. The Yanks have 28 games in September, including a doubleheader with the Rays, and then three more in October. Are they just going to let Joba pitch, innings be damned? Are they going to move him to the bullpen in September?
Brian Cashman has said many times that there is a plan in place for Joba. As we move into August, they will start to unveil that plan. We’ll see if he gets skipped and when. We’ll see what kind of moves he makes not only at the deadline, but afterward. I’m not going to say I have the answer, even though I did lay out a possible plan above. It’s just a guess. But whatever the plan happens to be, it doesn’t look like Joba can get through the end of the season without massively exceeding his previous career high in innings pitched.
The Yankees activities over the next 22 and a half hours will speak a lot towards what they’re thinking.