The Joba Chamberlain/Chad Gaudin plan


On August 6, the Yankees acquired Chad Gaudin from the Padres for the ever-popular Player To Be Named Later. As post-July 31st moves go, this was a good one. The Yanks got a pitcher arguably better than Sergio Mitre and who has the ability to pitch out of the pen and the rotation.

Since then, Gaudin has appeared in exactly zero games for the Yankees. He last pitched on August 5. It was a 3.1-inning, 85-pitch appearance that wasn’t a good one. He could have relieved Joba last night; in fact, as Joe and I were watching the game from the left field bleachers with no view of the Yankee bullpen, we assumed he would. Yet, when Joe Girardi made his call to the pen, Gaudin was nowhere to be found.

Prior to the game, the Yanks had let slip some of their double secret plans for the weekend rotation and beyond. While Gaudin maintains he doesn’t know what’s happen — “[Girardi] told me I could be used in any number of ways,” he said. “So I guess that means starts, too. I just have to take it day by day.” — the Yankees seem ready to use Gaudin in place of Joba on Sunday while keeping Sergio Mitre in the rotation and using him on Saturday. Al Aceves, our darkhorse candidate for that fifth starter spot, would remain in the bullpen, ostensibly as Mitre’s or Gaudin’s shadow.

So what’s really going on here? All of a sudden, with a 5.5-game lead, the Yankees are starting to get cute with the rotation and with Joba Chamberlain. According to numerous reports from the clubhouse, the Yankees are keeping Joba on a start-by-start, need-to-know basis. They tell him when he will next be pitching and have said only that he won’t be moved to the bullpen at all this year. He will be available come the postseason, but the team will have to get creative.

It all, of course, begins and ends with Joba’s innings limit. Last year, he threw 100.1 innings, and this year, he is already at 121.2 innings pitches. The Yankees know that they can’t really extend him by much more than 50 innings this year without risking injury. That leaves them just 28.1 innings of Joba for the rest of August, September and the playoffs. Even with a strict innings limit, that’s still just four or five starts. We’ll have to see what the team has up its sleeve.

Beyond Joba, though, are the Red Sox. Joe and I speculated earlier on Tuesday night that the Yankees could be trying to line up their rotation for next weekend’s series in Boston. Ideally, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Joba would face the Red Sox. The only problem with this conspiracy theory is that, because of next Thursday’s off-day, the Yankees already have Joba, A.J. and CC lined up to face the Sox. By inserting Gaudin into the rotation on Saturday and keeping Mitre in his place, they risk upsetting that perfect storm of pitching.

In the end, I’m left a little stumped. The Yankees have options, and they seem willing to deploy them in creative and non-traditional ways. But where that leaves Joba Chamberlain and the Yanks’ 16 victories in his 22 starts is a question I just can’t answer yet. For now, I’ll trust the plan, whatever it may be.

Categories : Pitching


  1. jsbrendog says:

    me sad i can has not phil hughes

      • Stryker says:

        yeah they really, really pigeonholed themselves by refusing to switch hughes’/joba’s roles. i mean, they’d still need that 5th guy no matter what (thanks, CMW..) but at least they/we wouldn’t have to worry about this so much. i don’t know why, once CMW went down for good, it wasn’t in the cards to stretch phil out to take joba’s place.

        • Ed says:

          i don’t know why, once CMW went down for good, it wasn’t in the cards to stretch phil out to take joba’s place.

          They probably blame Joba’s injury last year on moving from the bullpen to rotation and don’t want a repeat.

          • Which is probably a fair enough point but, IMO, Hughes should’ve been in Scranton starting ready to fill in if/when someone else went down.

            • AndrewYF says:

              Instead of helping the big league club win? There’s a great way to not utilize your available resources.

              • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

                I think he left out the part “building innings, improving his command, and basically developing and maturing as a pitcher so he’ll be able to slide in as our number 4 or 5 next year with the most number of innings available based on that stuipd Verducci rule.”

                but that’s just a guess.

              • You know how else he could be helping the team right now? Starting instead of Sergio Mitre. At worst, he’d be exactly what Mitre is right now–and that’s at his absolute worse. Chances are, he’d be better than Mitre (helping his team win) and be developing at the same time. It’d be absolute win/win for the Yankees and Hughes.

  2. JC says:

    I think its pretty obvious they are going to be using Gaudin or Aceves in the number 5 spot by next week. I think it was just too soon to have one of them jump in. I am suprised though that they didn’t use Gaudin last night. My guess is by Septemeber Aceves is the # 5 and hopefully Gaudin takes over his role of being able to come out of the pen for a good inning or two. The guy does need some pitching time though.

  3. J.D. says:

    I said before on the last post that it’s a nice luxury to have and I’m grateful they’re in a position to make these moves, but I just hope they realize that there is plenty of baseball left to play, and it’s certainly no time to start getting cocky. I guess we can only take it one start at a time and see how it progresses.

  4. A.D. says:

    Personally I think they should move Aceves in Mitre’s spot, yes it weakens the pen short term, but he’ll be back there for the playoffs.

    Then have Joba starting every 8-10 days for the next month or so, returning him to normal rest for the last couple weeks. Figuring that Gaudin, Mitre, or other starters on the 40 man can make the starts in between, or off days can be used.

    • I don’t even think it weakens the pen that much either. Right now, Aceves is being used mostly to shadow Mitre anyway. He can’t pitch again until at least tomorrow and maybe Friday. So the Yanks are already short a man in the pen because of Sergio.

      • Peter Lacock says:

        It could become an issue if AJ, CC and Andy stop going 7 innings consistently like they have been of late and it was nice having him available against Boston Friday night. Who knows? If Mitre or Gaudin fills that role we may not have seen ARods game winner. Even Joba went deep several starts in a row making Ace’s role less important. Also, it wasn’t necessary for Ace to throw 40 pitches the other day but Girardi chose to go that way for some reason. Maybe Ace should have been in the rotation right from the start but you work with Wang and Mitre, now maybe Gaudin. I would tend to lean toward leaving Ace alone, much like Hughes, instead of potentially weakening the bullpen while possibly also getting no improvement in the #5 spot as there is no guarantee Ace will be any better than anyone else. His last start was uninspiring. I think giving Gaudin a good look is interesting as there’s a chance he may be in the conversation for a spot next season. Hirsh and to a lesser extent, Ortiz are also considerations. Plus, Mitre hasn’t exactly been getting lit up like Wang was. I’m OK with him starting Saturday and then reevaluate.

  5. Sam P. says:

    Aceves makes the decision easier as he continues to go 3 or 4 solid innings at a time. Perhaps in the next Mitre start (or Gaudin) they’ll put Alfredo in at the slightest sign of danger and try and stretch him out to five innings of work for a potential start next time around the rotation.

  6. A.D. says:

    Other good thing, that could allow moving Aceves out of the pen is Bruney may be coming around, last 2 outings of the scoreless variety, thus Girardi may be building confidence.

    • Word, Bruney getting right, along with Coke righting his ship and D-Rob continuing to be solid, makes the bullpen a lot stronger.

    • Sam P. says:

      Good point – plus don’t forget Marte “DotF”! An effective Marte also offers the Yanks a little bit of a bullpen surplus for moving Aceves into starting as #5.

  7. Alex says:

    I believe the Yankees got Chad Gaudin for a player to be named later. Chase Weems was traded for Jerry Hairston Jr.

  8. Ed says:

    The Gaudin idea makes sense. I’m just a little surprised they waited this long to do it. Not a lot of innings left for Joba to play with no matter who’s idea of an innings cap you go by. And since they’re in first with a nice lead, you have to assume they’ll be playing in October.

    I guess after last year’s injury issue, they wanted to make sure his inning total for the season was higher than it’s ever been before getting cute with his usage. Last year’s plan to backload his workload backfired, so, frontload it this year.

    • Last year they just royally screwed up. He should’ve just been a starter out of the gate. In ’07, he had 112 IP between the minors and the majors. So, last year he could’ve gone anywhere from ~160-170, meaning this year he could’ve been uncapped.

      • J.D. says:

        But that’s a strict violation of the Verducci Rule haha.

        • Haha, well I figure the Yankees are stretching TVR a bit more–going +50-60 this year–so I assume that’s what they would’ve done. Even if they didn’t, Joba could’ve done 140-150 last year as a full time starter and 170-180 this year, which would’ve been a little easier to manage.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

          Is it “The Verducci Rule”, “The Veducci Effect”. “The Verducci Law”, “Verducci’s Vision”, “The Verducci Douchie” or “Pass The Verducci Pon The Left Hand Side”?

  9. Cam says:

    This makes me wonder what they would’ve done had they not had a 5.5 game lead on the sox at this point in the season.

  10. I trust them.

    Because, or in spite of them, the Yankees are in first place. Clearly they know something, even just a little, about this baseball thing.

    • Psh, they know how to spend money and wait for the three run homer. They don’t know squat about real baseball.

    • thurdonpaul says:

      ditto, management is farrrr from stupid

    • Todd says:

      I completely agree! I not only trust them, I agree with each decision: keeping Aceves and Phil in the Pen, keeping Mitre in the rotation a few more games at least, and inserting Gaudin to make a six man rotation of sorts (if that is the plan). Is everything perfect? No. But given the circumstances, this to me is the best course of action.

  11. Mac says:

    I can’t imagine even the Yankees know what the plan is as far as Joba and the back end of the rotation. All I know is Mitre is not the answer in that rotation. Alfredo pitched 4 innings the other day and should be swapped into the rotation for him. I think he is the key. If Alfredo can be a viable consistent starter for the Yanks then there is a lot more flexibility on what they can do with Joba.

    A playoff rotation of CC, Burnett, Pettitte and Alfredo with a back end of the bullpen with Joba/Hughes and Mariano is what I would shoot for. Throw Bruney, Melancon, Coke and Marte into the mix and you have the makings of a very solid bullpen that can bail out a starter in the 5th inning and keep games close.

    • Because you, Mac, do not know what the plan is means the Yanks don’t know it either. Brilliant.

      • Mac says:

        Your sentence doesn’t even make sense. I am sure the Yanks have ideas as to what they want the plan to be but as pointed out in Ben’s post, how the hell do you get Joba through the playoffs without extending him to in upwards of 175 innings for the year?

        • I am Ben. You’re referring to me in the third person.

          Anyway, you wrote, “I can’t imagine even the Yankees know what the plan is as far as Joba and the back end of the rotation.” It seems to me as though you are implying that the Yanks don’t have a plan. Just because they haven’t made it publicly known to all of the teams fighting them for a playoff spot does not mean the plan does not exist. Cashman, Eiland and Girardi know what they’re doing.

          • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

            “I am Ben. You’re referring to me in the third person.”

            Ahhh…this cracked me up.

          • Mac says:

            Ah, sorry didn’t read the name.

            I think they probably have a series of plans. Depending on the position the team is in in the standings. But there is virtually no way to keep him in the rotation through the playoffs without extending him more then what they say they want to.

            Personally if his arm feels fine, and there is no sign of fatigue then you give him breaks while they are up in the standings and if it gets close then you let him pitch his heart out right through the playoffs in the rotation. Because he is our best 3rd starter.

            • Rob H. says:

              Why? Why is it virtually impossible? No one here even knows what his innings limit is. Everyone is simply speculating what his total is since Cashman hasn’t told anyone what the innings limit is for Joba this year. It could easily be 160 or 170. We don’t know.

              • Mac says:

                Actually Rob H

                Cashman has been quoted on saying during the off season and during the season that they are looking for him to pitch about 150 innings in the starter role this year. Its not speculation, its what was part of their original “plan”.

                But plans obviously change.

                • Rob H. says:

                  I did not know this. Thanks for clarifying that. I hadn’t seen that before.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  Mac. I call shenanigans. where does it say this? source? because if you cannto produce one then you are wrong because everyone here has their ear to the ground, especially the 3 heads of RAB and no one has heard, read, seen anything to back up your point.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

            I no machine. I just Ben.

            …i can’t believe he put Aceves in the playoff rotation with Joba and Hughes in the pen and nobody’s head exploded. What? He called him Alfredo, and you guys got all ‘leave the cannoli take the gun” all of a sudden?

        • Rob H. says:

          so what you are saying is that the Yankees are just winging it right now? They don’t have a plan set up that they are going to follow for the next month and a half until the playoffs? Again, just b/c you don’t know how they are going to do this doesn’t mean that the Yankees don’t know either. It would be utterly stupid for them not to already know this kind of stuff.

          • Mac says:

            Your taking my comments all wrong. I’am not saying they haven’t thought this through. I’am also not saying they don’t have a series of roads mapped out. I just don’t think they truly know what direction they are going to take yet. I think there are to many factors that can impact their decision making (Standings, Injuries, Performance of Guadin, Alfredo, Mitre, Pettitte)

            • Rob H. says:

              I don’t think you are giving the team enough credit here. I think the team has a plan set and they will go with that barring certain circumstances arising. Personally, I think the team is far more worried about the future with Joba than what is going on this season.

  12. Kiersten says:

    The idea of Gaudin and Aceves/Mitre at the back end of the rotation frightens me. 5.5 with ~50 to go is not THAT big of a lead…

  13. TLVP says:

    I assume the plan is to pitch


    Aceves or Gaudin




    White Sox


    And then you are in September with an expanded team…

    Joba starts 2 more games in August both on long rest
    Aceves/Mitre/Gaudin combine for 4 games
    CC, AJ and Andy gets 4 starts more each in August

    • TLVP says:

      I think what they do on Sunday also depends on how we and the Red Sox do between now and then – we could be up 9.5 games or only 1.5 ahead (Mo forbid). If we are up 6-7 games with 46 to play I think resting Joba will be the top priority

    • Tom Zig says:

      I’d rather not start Joba on 10 days rest in Fenway.

  14. Makavelli says:

    I love how they waited til the last minute to figure all of this out. And their “break glass in case of emergency” option is Chad Gaudin??? What happens if Burnett or Pettitte go down with injury?? We’ll have a 3,4, and 5 of Gaudin, Mitre, and Jason Johnson respectively??? Talk about putting pressure on the offense. This is exactly how the Sox got into their offensive slump. Terrible 3,4, and 5 guys.

    Meanwhile Hughes is pitching in the 8th inning (sometimes).

    • I agree with you on the Hughes front, but what makes you think they waited until the last minute to figure this all out? None of us are privy to their internal discussions.

    • Stryker says:

      jason johnson isn’t even an option. dude was released the other day.

    • Teix is the Man says:

      johnson was released

    • rzg says:

      “I love how they waited til the last minute to figure all of this out.”

      And I love how either you think they never had a plan or maybe you’re pouting that Cashman and Girardi didn’t personally contact you to let you know their plans.

      When you’re playing poker do you tell the other players what cards you’re holding?

    • TLVP says:

      Helmuth von Moltke said “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy”. The marine’s say “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”

      You make things up as you go along, Wang goes down, come back goes down and you have to live with the consequences.

      If CC goes down, you respond to that – probably not with Jason Johnson but by sacrificing the Joba starts in the postseason and start:

      Andy, AJ, Joba, Aceves and Mitre or Gaudin.

      You hope you can limp into post season and get CC back in time for that. You could easily win it all with CC, AJ, Andy and Aceves

    • “We’ll have a 3,4, and 5 of Gaudin, Mitre, and Jason Johnson respectively??? Talk about putting pressure on the offense. This is exactly how the Sox got into their offensive slump. Terrible 3,4, and 5 guys.”

      Either I’m missing something or this doesn’t make any sense. We’re worried about our 3-4-5 in the rotation because the Sox’ offensive slump was caused by the 3-4-5 in their rotation?

    • jsbrendog says:

      This is exactly how the Sox got into their offensive slump. Terrible 3,4, and 5 guys

      multiple interrobangs…

      they got into an offensive slump because their pitching isnt as deep as they thought? you got some splainin to do.

  15. E-ROC says:

    Just let Joba reach his innings on normal rest. Shut him down and have Hughes take his spot in the rotation. Have Aceves replace Mitre in the rotation with Melancon taking Mitre’s roster spot.

    • Stryker says:

      no problem with this except they’ve said a gazillion times (hello, hyperbole!) that they will not hughes be starting for the rest of the year. so all the ideas we have about solving this problem realistically CAN’T include him being put in the starting rotation.

    • Mac says:

      To much messing with our pitchers arms for my comfort. Also, way to many questions on whether that will work. Can Hughes ramp up and be a solid starter? Why mess with what hes been accomplishing?

  16. Mike Axisa says:

    Ideally, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Joba would face the Red Sox.

    I think you can argue that you want Pettitte starting over Joba in that series. Pettitte’s been money since the break.

  17. the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

    Does anyone remember how Nardi kept track of every pitch that Melancon threw? He was efficient, and so his innings mattered less than his total pitch count.

    Is it possible that the Yankees have a pitch count limit, not an innings limit, for Joba?

  18. LiveFromNewYork says:

    The Yankees (and Girardi) tend to play around with scenarios when they have wiggle room either in the standings or in a game. It can drive us crazy and we sometimes mistake experiments for bad management but the record kinda speaks for itself. They know what they’re doing and even when they’re making us crazy, they do have a plan.

    • Klemy says:


      It’s so hard to keep that in mind when we see certain decisions occur, but I have to believe this is exactly what is going on those times.

  19. Pasqua says:

    So long as Girardi doesn’t pull an Eric Mangini and start pretending that he and Cash are the mystical overlords of pitching, I will follow this team’s decisions into the dark.

    But I do love the debate.

  20. deadrody says:

    So when do we start the debate about which DH to bring back next year ? Seems to me that now that Matsui has settled into that role, that he could still be a very valuable contributor next season at least. Then again, Damon is actually having a better offensive season and could still play some outfield if needed. Matsui really can’t.

    • TLVP says:

      No DH – Jeter, Posada and A-Rod will all need time at DH

    • Mac says:

      I don’t think you keep either of them. The Yanks are going to need that DH spot for Posada/Jeter/Alex. I love it when they can utilize that spot to give guys a break in the field.

      I would like to see them go out and get Bay or Holliday to patrol LF. If they are looking for a cheaper short term solution then maybe they try and re-sign Damon. But I stay far away from Matsui.

      • Peter Lacock says:

        I could see it going either way. Resigning either (or both) costs no draft picks. The best FA’s OF’s will hurt the draft. Resigning neither fits for the same reasons Bobby is in LA.

      • I don’t see the value to getting Holliday or Bay. If we’re going to go that route, I’d rather see them try to bring Damon back in LF for a year and wait for Crawford to hit the FA market. I don’t dislike the idea of Damon DH’ing, but I don’t know what you do with LF then. I hate saying it, but Matsui really is going to have to be let go. It’s hard to use a roster spot on a guy who really can’t play the field.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        You’d stay away from Matsui but you would like to see Holliday or Bay? Holliday is average in the AL and is a Boras agent which means a lot of money.
        Jason Bay might be expensive, puts up decent numbers but has bad defense. I’d skip him. Don’t understand your reasoning for staying “far away” from Matsui when those 2 don’t provide a huge improvement.

    • Klemy says:

      Right now, I almost take the one with the more friendly contract, but I’d prefer Damon for flexibility. Probably highly debateable…

  21. Tommy says:

    I liked Gaudin better when he was the Amish Rifle. Feast your eyes on this:

  22. For what it’s worth, Larry Brooks, in a stupid column in which he obviously doesn’t understand young pitchers, says that Joba’s regular season innings limit is capped at 160. I’d guess that the Yanks want Joba’s arm to stay south of that mark.

    • TLVP says:

      I think they’ll keep him even lowr than that if the run away with the division. I’d think that in an ideal world they’d like to keep him at 165 max including post season

    • Zack says:

      i love how every writer thinks Yankees are the only team with innings limits. Too bad they dont pay attention to kids in A/AA/AAA for every other club, or just look at James Shields 2 years ago when they shut him down in September because he hit 180-yes they were in last place and sucked but its the same. And wait until they shut David Price down, you wont hear a word about it in the MSM

  23. Reggie C. says:

    Gaudin and Mitre in the same rotation? Does Cashman think the lead is in double-digits? There’s a disaster looming for this ballclub, and the incomprehensible aspect of it is that we all see it coming.

  24. LiveFromNewYork says:

    On May 12th, Yankees were in 3rd place, 6.5 games back with the 19th best record in baseball.

    On June 12th, Yankees were in 2nd place, 2 games back with the 5th best record in baseball.

    On July 12th, Yankees were in 2nd place, 3 games back with the 3rd best record in baseball.

    On August 12th, Yankees were in 1st place, 5.5 games up with the best record in baseball. (first to reach 70 wins).

    49 games left and anything can happen but I think we’re firing on all cylinders.

  25. Doug says:

    very interested to see how cash and co. are going to limit joba to only 4 or 5 more starts when the schedule says he’d probably have 9-10 more with 49 games to play.

    • Sam says:

      Don’t know if it was mentioned earlier but I seem to remember hearing that the Verducci Effect can be mitigated by giving extra rest between starts.

  26. Peter Lacock says:

    Per Pete Abe 11:22 a.m.
    Joba was the topic this morning. Joe Girardi confirmed what has been reported here all season long, that Joba will stay in the rotation and will not be sent to the bullpen. He also will be able to pitch in the playoffs. Limitations disappear at that point. They’ll basically will spread out his starts when they can.

    Joba was filled in last night with some of the details. Not every start will be on extra rest but some obviously will be. The innings limit is more than people think. They based it on the entirety of his career, not just last year.

    • Rob in CT says:

      Interesting. I really hope they know what they’re doing.

    • Ed says:

      The innings limit is more than people think. They based it on the entirety of his career, not just last year.

      That line made me dig more than I have before into Joba’s past. As best I can tell, here’s his pitching career innings totals:

      2005 – 118.2 (college)
      2006 – 127 (college + hawaii league)
      2007 – 111 or 116 (fangraphs and baseball cube disagree on his AA innings total)
      2008 – 100

      I’ve gotten the impression they don’t strictly believe in the Verducci Effect, so, once you factor in the Hawaii league innings, I could see his limit being as high as 175.

  27. Rob in CT says:

    It’s not optimal, but that’s what happens when your #2 starter is hurt/ineffective. They’ve compounded it by putting their #6 and #7 starters in the bullpen (which, admittedly, has suffered the loss of its primary lefty setup man). The #8 starter also got hurt. This leaves us with guys like Mitre and Gaudin.

    I get why they don’t want to switch Hughes back to the rotation. They’re being careful with him (not so much with Aceves, and I’m a little worried about that honestly). The obvious answer, to me, is to start Aceves. Gaudin is apparently effective against RHH. Coke is pretty good against LHH. Hughes is good against both (more RHH than LHH, though) and Mo is Mo. That should be enough to get it done in the bullpen without Aceves for a month and a half.

    • Rob in CT says:

      To be clear, “being careful” with Hughes means trying not to yo-yo him back and forth between starting and relieving. I think they’re a little gunshy b/c of Joba’s shoulder issue last season. Ideally, there would’ve been no yo-yo b/c Hughes would’ve stayed in the rotation, but the oddly handled return of Wang messed that up. Now they’ve unstretched Hughes (4-pitch outings, Joe, seriously?), so what’s done appears to be done, for this year.

  28. [...] we spent the morning speculating about the Yanks’ plans for Joba, the team let slip shortly before their afternoon affair with the Blue Jays exactly what they have [...]

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