Thinking further on Joba’s usage

Matt Garza opens mouth, asks for suspension
Game 102: Shi-Town

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.

Matt Garza opens mouth, asks for suspension
Game 102: Shi-Town
  • Brien Jackson

    Not that Iknow, obviously, but if it were me I’d let him pitch up to about 140 innings and then let him finish in the bullpen under the old Joba-rules.

  • Brien Jackson

    And I’d skip his next one, but hust to line up the top 4 against Boston.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      Got to pitch him vs. Boston. He pitches vell vs. the Sox and is on a roll.

  • Ant

    They should think about flip flopping Hughes and Joba soon. Hughes is well below his innings limit and Joba is nearing his limit. By flipping them you get to keep Joba the whole season and playoffs rather then having him shut down completely and I think Hughes can be a more then adequate #4.

    • Ross

      This was my idea all along, but it seems like the Yankees don’t want to keep on switching Hughes back and forth during the same season. Who knows what effect that has on the arm?

  • Mikebk

    there is HUGE flaw in your reasoning here. You are assuming he will start all the way up to the limit. Cashman has said that Joba will not be shut down so if he has a limit he is not going to pitch up to it as a starter, they will stop him 15-20 innings short and have him finish in the pen.

    If the limit is 150, they will stop him around 130 which gives him 3-4 more starts and even if they skip him once or twice it wont get him out of August, which unless they are going to flip Hughes and Joba for September leaves us a starter short even with Mitre. I just dont see them in a pennant race having September callups making those starts. I would have assumed it would be Ace taking over for Joba, but with the sore shoulder that is tough to rely on. So if we have an assumed 4 week window with Joba as a starter then we also have that in stretching Phil back out.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      My reasoning? I asked the question, didn’t I? There’s a possibility that he could be in the bullpen. There’s a chance the Yanks let him pitch 175 innings. We don’t know. But it’s something I wondered about, so I write about it.

      • Mikebk

        in the argument you laid there was no discussion of moving him back to the pen was my point and discussing the number of starts to push him up to the presumed limit. I could see it being 150-160, but he has not gone past 112 innings as a pro and only 100 last year so i dont see a bump all the way to 175 with the way they have protected him to this point.

        The only other way to go would be to limit him to 5 inning outings (instead of going to the pen or shutting him down) which would end up taxing the pen unnecessarily and was the initially argument in here for going to Mitre vs stretching out Ace of Hughes.

        • whozat

          There was no argument. He laid out a couple of possible courses of action. He never purported to have enumerated them all, or to be advocating any particular combination of actions.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)


            Big words hurt small brain…

            (Yes I’m kidding before someone comes here and types all the definitions or something.)

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    How many starts would Joba have until the end of the season, assuming there is no innings limit? I want to see him start as far into the end of the season as possible.

    • Mikebk

      well CC and AJ have approx 10-12 starts left.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      I think about 7. But this is a very arbitrary number.

  • prime

    With the way he has been pitching, if it were to continue, I just can’t see the yankees not using joba as a starter if they make the playoffs (putting aside whether he starts or is a reliever in september). Unless you have CC, AJ and Andy has your 1-3 and they go ahead and win the first 3 games of each series, Joba is most useful as a starter in october. I guess with the ALDS, you can get away with 3 starters, so maybe if you advance you deal with it then.

  • Chris P.

    Sucks that he won’t be able to start in the playoffs though……

    That’s what makes me think that the Yanks will trade for a starter. People mention Washburn alot, but if the Yanks can’t pry him from Seattle, what about Jon Garland? He’s been pretty consistantly average his whole career and should come cheap with only two months left on his current contract. Any thoughts?

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Please no on Garland. His K/BB has declined every year since 2006. His WHIP the past two years is atrocious. The AL East would eat him alive.

      • Tony

        But Sergio Mitre is fine!

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

          Sergio has not done bad. People get all scared seeing him face the Sox, but the Sox lineup isn’t particularly scary…worse than the Orioles in fact. And if he could give vs. the Sox what he gave vs. the Orioles, that’ll be fine. More than most expect, in fact.

        • whozat

          Hey, it’s a false dichotomy!
          No one said Sergio Mitre is fine, though he has gotten a lot of grounders.

          He does have the advantage of costing nothing and already being on the roster. Why spend prospects and money for someone that’s not an upgrade?

          • Matt ACTY/BBD


  • Tank Foster


    1. The Yankees acquire another starter (Washburn), I predict they will move Joba to the bullpen when he’s near 150.

    2. The Yankees acquire another reliever (Qualls….I know, supposedly he’s not on the table anymore, etc., but if they find another decent reliever), I predict they either switch Hughes/Joba when Joba tops out, or they use them as a tandem the rest of the year.

    3. They don’t acquire any pitchers, I bet they just let Joba pitch however many innings he ends up pitching…in other words, he keeps starting.

    Why, in case 3, not switch Hughes/Joba? I’m guessing the Yankees think the stress of going from starter to reliever is equal or worse than having him exceed his innings limit by 30-40 innings.

    I will be very surprised if they shut Chamberlain down.

    I wouldn’t shut him down. Sorry, I know these guidelines exist for use of young pitchers, but I think it’s foolish to follow them slavishly.

    • Reggie C.

      I agree with your take on why Joba could end up pitching “however many innings he ends up pitching.” The arm issues Joba experienced after making the mid-season move from reliever to starter might’ve left an everlasting impression on Cashman.

      Is it safer to let Hughes work out the ‘pen the remainder of the season and then have him work on an @ 150 IP max next season? Yeah. There’s something to that.

      Is it wiser to have Hughes come up waaay short on his IP and have run into the cap next season? Nope. But that’s alleviated by the fact that Joba would likely be pitching without a cap next season if he’s allowed to go 170’ish in ’09.

      • Peter Lacock

        As has been discussed in the past, it’s not just the IP but also The type of innings as fas as stress vs. ease and also how strong he is. It appears Joba has received advice from Doc ala AJ to pace himself creating the perceived drop in velocity (with no evidence of injury) and the apparent ability to crank it up when needed. If there’s no aquisition of an above average SP, Joba has to continue in his present role.

  • r.w.g.

    Just let him keep pitching.

    • whozat

      Yeah, consequences be damned! Airtight reasoning!

      • Tony

        The “Verducci Effect” is fun to talk about, but rule one of objective analysis is…
        Correlation does not prove Causation

        Is it really sensible to attribute muscle strains to overuse a year earlier? Pitchers get injured a lot no matter how they were managed. It makes intuitive sense to believe that sudden, massive IP increases are a bad idea; but does it make sense to be so beholden to a writer’s casual observation? Is there any real long-term analysis about this? I’d like to see it.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

          You could even make the theory that the pitchers could end up stronger because they’re working out their arms more, thus stregthening them.

          But I can’t blame the Yanks for not taking the risk.

        • Brien Jackson

          There’s a lot of evidence to support the notion that increasing a pitcher’s year to year workload by too much before the age of 25 correlates to serious arm injuries.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

            I’m not saying you’re right or worng, but can you produce the evidence?

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)


            • Chip

              Well for 2008, he predicted that 24 pitchers were in serious trouble of regression and/or injury due to the effect. Of the 24, 16 got hurt (not all arm related) and only one guys lowered his ERA and stayed healthy.

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

                Not all arm related seems suspicious.

                I don’t want correlation. I want the science proving the theory.

          • Tony

            I know there are guys to point out. I mean is there a real, long term study somewhere that controls for factors like absurd pitch counts (Wood/Prior), fluke injuries (covering a base), and pitchers’ normal delicateness?

            • Brien Jackson

              I don’t know how long term it was, but I’m pretty sure someone crunched the numbers on IP and pitches thrown among recent guys under 25 and correlated that to injuries and decreased production.

  • Art Vandelay

    Got to imagine he’s being moved to the pen. I can’t envision a scenario in which the Yankees are playing in the playoffs without Joba pitching at all. I imagine they think (probably rightfully so) that he’s far too valuable a bullpen arm to not have him on the roster when he can indisputably help you win a World Series title, development as a starter be damned.

  • Jake H

    You skip him when you can but you have him pitch the rest of the year but you start having him only go 5 innings. Keith Law said this is what he would do and I think it’s smart.

  • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

    I’ll be honest here: With all the speculation, I have no idea what the Yankees might or might not do, and frankly I don’t even know what the best choice of action is anymore. I think at this point I’m going to trust that the Yankees will handle things smoothly.

  • OmgZombies!

    The Yankees need him in the playoffs to be a starter. Hes right now the Yankees third place starter by far. They have to figure out whats best for Joba and the team. The rotation takes a big hit if they remove him. Hughes is a great option but I much rather have Joba starting a playoff game than Hughes.

    The Yankees imo need to let him go to 180. Its not big jump but not huge. That will give them enough innings to skip starts and get him for the whole year + playoffs.

    • BigBlueAL

      + 1,000,000,000

      I just cant fathom the Yankees justifying not having Joba start in the playoffs to who cares about the fans but to the players on the team. Your gonna tell Mo or Posada sorry our 3rd best pitcher will not start in the playoffs because they want him to be totally healthy to start in the playoffs in 2011???? If the Yankees acquire a solid SP then OK you can justify it alot more, but if not and Pettitte becomes the #3 starter and God forbid Mitre have to start a game or 2 in the playoffs as the #4 starter it will be a bloodbath if the Yankees get eliminated in the playoffs and rightfully so to be honest.

      Sure you can just flip-flop Joba and Hughes but really by now I cant imagine Hughes coming close to being as effective a SP as Joba this season let alone come the playoffs. I admit it really is a fine and tricky line and I dont envy the Yankees in the decision they have to make.

      • Chip

        OK I get what you’re saying about he Posada and Mo thing but please, Cashman doesn’t OWE them to keep Joba in the rotation. It’s not Cashman’s job to make sure Mo and Posada get another ring before their contracts expire, his job is to make the Yankees the best team now and in the future. If the Yankees decide to shut down Joba because he’s at his innings limit, nobody is going to go and explain the situation to those guys.

    • Chip

      2005 – 119 IP
      2006 – 90 IP
      2007 – 107 IP
      2008 – 100 IP
      2009 – 180 IP

      One of these things just doesn’t belong here and I would call that a huge jump.

      • andrew

        Did you count winter ball?

  • MP

    The problem here is that the Yanks never skipped his starts during the rest of the season. If they had given him maybe one fewer start a month, or three every two months, he could be able to keep going for a while and even into the playoffs. I’d like to see Joba start a playoff game, but obviously I don’t want him to burn out his arm at age 23.

  • Chris V.

    Why not combine them? Its unorthodox and hasnt been done before, but why not put both joba and hughes on 50-60 pitch limits and pitch them together every five days through the playoffs. They would need to acquire another bullpen arm, but each could throw 3-4 innings a game and they could even do it in the playoffs. One guy starts one game the other guy relieves, next time they switch. It hasnt been done before and doing it in ny with a pennant race isnt ideal, but I think it may be the best move to make.

    • Observer283

      I actually like this idea. Its highly unconventional, but it might work. You would be much less likely to over tax the bullpen. It would allow you to manage both guy’s pitch counts. And it would allow you to have the best available guys pitching the most innings (While doing minimal damage to their development).

      I don’t like the Let Joba start up to and through the playoffs (if we make it).

      Ask Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Fausto Carmona how that will work out.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      That’s the most creative idea I’ve heard.

      I like it.

    • Mike bk

      the only problem going that way is you are losing a bullpen arm for the rest of the week that presumably you would have one of the two for.

      • Chris V.

        You are right mike, its really like having 6 starters. I think the yankees could go with a short bench, they have at multiple points this season, but it is one downside to the idea.

  • GG

    Joba can’t possibly stay in the rotation the whole time, we need Moose to make one more playoff run

    • GG

      I mean I want Joba to, but its just not that smart

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      I’m going to laugh and assume you’re joking.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Great, GG, now you gave away the Yankees secret weapon.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

        While we’re at it why not just go whole hog and get Yogi Berra to catch for a couple games. Gives Posada a rest while not sacrificing quality.

        Bet we (of RAB) could convince him.

        • GG

          Obviously I don’t expect Moose to come back, but I think your taking it a little too far. Moose won 20 games last year, how many did Yogi catch?

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

            Just a joke. I figured you were joking too. Seriously.

            • GG

              Its all good brotherman, but mine while highly unlikely, is physically possible at least…and its not like Moose already has a ring

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

                Actually I doubt it’s physically possible. Moos would need to get himself into not just good shape for a SP, but he needs to be good enough to be a contributing player in playoff baseball. Could he do that on such short notice even if he wanted too?

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)


  • Chip

    Skip him on the 3rd and then pitch him against the Sox on the 8th. Use a spot starter on the 13th, and then pitch him on the 18th. use the off day to skip his next start and then pitch him against Texas on the 28th. Use another spot starter on the 2nd of September and then pitch him in the doubleheader on the 7th. Use another off day to skip his spot on the 12th and then start him the 18th against Seattle. Pitch him on the 23rd and give him one more start on 28th (or the 27th against Boston if the division is close).

    That gives you 6 or 7 starts the rest of the year at 6 innings a start to the tune of 146-152 innings. Figure they use him as a fourth starter if they make the ALCS/ALDS. That means you have to get a spot start on the 13th of August and the 2nd of September (I could be missing a spot start) against the Mariners and Orioles respectively. Also, I bet this schedule helps Joba out on his dominance as we’ve seen what a little break can do for him.


    • Chip

      And by 6 or 7 I’m thinking the start on the 23rd could be taken by somebody like Ivan Nova who is up when rosters expand. I’d determine that based on how close the standings are.

      • Rick in Boston

        I’m with you on your thinking Chip. It’s just raises one question: who takes the spot starts between now and roster expansion.

  • BigBlueAL

    The problem with skipping a bunch of starts for Joba so come playoff time he can start is how effective could he possibly be??? Sure he will be well-rested but I cant imagine pitching so little leading up to the playoffs will be the best thing for him or any SP.

    I just hope his limit is more closer to 170-180 because that is alot easier to manage and still have him start in the playoffs.

    • Chip

      He seemed to pitch well after getting a rest over the all-star break

      • Peter Lacock

        Shut him down for a few weeks and bring him back for 3 or 5 starts at the end to gear up for the playoffs.

  • pete

    i’m wondering how much the verducci effect is really in play here. I know joba’s previous high in innings is pretty low, but one would think that his having two full seasons of pitching, mostly starting, under his belt would prepare him for up to 170 innings if he were well-monitored and had a carefully regimented offseason workout routine. Playoffs are another story of course, because they would extend the season time-wise, too. But 170 innings is merely pitching a full season at a pretty low rate of innings per start. I think if he continues to pitch like last night he should be fine for a while, and probably start to get tired mid-late september, at which point it would seem prudent to take him out, rest him, and put him in the bullpen for the playoffs. Meanwhile, try to acquire a good reliever now, and use hughes in more extended outings until he’s fit to go six, which will likely coincide with a need in the rotation, be it either pettitte’s ineffectiveness or chamberlain’s (resting pettitte then putting him in joba’s spot when he’s out). I think it would be smart also to acquire another back-end starter, if possible, but more as a backup for the inevitable eventual suckiness of either joba, andy, or serge. I think the yankees should remove him from the rotation when he starts to get tired, not when he reaches an arbitrary innings limit. I think that it would be much safer to allow him to hit 165-170 IP this year than stop at 150 and then have to go 200+ next year with playoffs and all.

  • tampayankee

    This ridiculous innings limit is further evidence of the clueless nature of the Yankees as an organization. Joba is a big boy, I mean physically, and to limit his inning is just plain stupid. Whitey Ford, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnet, Cy Young never had an insane and pointless innings limit, neither does Lincecum in SF and his is considerable smaller in size than Joba. This is a pointless and arbitrary way not to have your better young pitchers actually contribute in their career and you are stuck with washed up fill ins like Pettite to get inning.

    • Chip

      What about all the guys like Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and Mike Pelfrey? Just because some guys survived huge hikes (did any of those guys actually have a huge innings hike when they were young or did you just pick names out of the air?) doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous.

      • Tony

        CC Sabathia in one corner, Mark Prior in the other.

        1. Who is to say one got lucky?

        2. Who is to say one got unlucky?

        3. What about the millions of other variables involved in these players’ careers?

        It’s lazy and even cowardly to say “Boom, 30 innings, sit him down.” It’s a classic case of people just wanting to cover their asses.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      Pettite isn’t washed up.

      Linececum is young. Give him time.

    • Brien Jackson

      Sabathia never had an inning limit? Have you ever read anything about the way Cleveland handled him?

  • thebusiness

    Cashman says there is a plan in place for Joba.. and that’s trade him for Halladay.


  • thebusiness

    AJAX is getting the call tomorrow, I have an inkling.

  • dino

    easy answer to the issue at hand….. heres the ball kid go get em every 5th day fuck innings limits….hes a pitcher not a glass ornament

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  • Joe

    Stop babying Joba and let the man pitch. We never saw an innings limit on Clemens or Randy Johnson they both threw hard and never had issues. If his arm feels good let the man pitch the whole season and help us win another world series. There’s no reason why we should risk losing our lead and actually damaging the bullpen by taking Joba out of the rotation so we can limit him to some imaginary number of innings its rediculous