Trusting the Yanks’ Joba plan

Game 114 Spillover Thread III
Robbie Cano powers Yanks offense to 4-3 win in extras

While 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 in mind for Chamberlain. It is apparently a plan with an innings cap higher than we all expect and with some flexibility as to use. It is one that will not limit his post-season appearances and will not send him back to the bullpen. It is also one we should learn to trust.

For the immediate future, Joba will now get a week off until his next start. Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reported that Chamberlain will next pitch on Wednesday against the A’s. He will not face the Red Sox in Fenway next weekend. The Yankees are not sure if Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre will take Joba’s turn. I believe both will have to pitch this weekend, unless the Bombers are preparing to throw Al Aceves instead of Mitre.

Beyond that, things are up in the air. Sometimes, Joba will go on five days’ rest; sometimes, he will get a few extra days off. The Yankees, though, are keeping their eyes on both the immediate goal of winning the World Series this year and the long-term goal of keeping Joba healthy. “This is part of the plan,” Joe Girardi said. This is what we have to do because this is not just about the next two months. This is about years and years to come.”

Once the regular season ends, Joba will be a part of any potential playoff rotation. “All hands on deck,” the Yankee skipper said. It is also worth noting that, per Peter Abraham, Joba’s limit is “more than people think. [The Yankees] based it on the entirety of his career, not just last year.”

The entirety of his career is less than helpful. Joba threw 100.1 innings last year and just over 110 innings in 2007. What that means for this year is anyone’s guess. The Verducci Rule would cap Joba at 130 innings, but the Yankees are prepared to go past that mark. According to the Daily News, the Yanks are eying 160 innings as Joba’s cap. That probably doesn’t include pitching deep into October, if need be.

With this news, many Yankee fans will be up in arms. “How can they risk Joba’s health?” they will scream. “Why can’t they just put him into the pen?” None of us really know what the Yankees and their pitching coaches, a group of baseball professionals, know. They know the health risks, and they know Joba Chamberlain‘s make up. For now, I’m willing to trust that. Hopefully, that trust will not be misplaced.

Addendum: For a different look on pitching injuries, take a read through this recent New York Times Magazine article on teenagers facing overwhelming innings loads. These things definitely matter, and that article is a prime example of why the Yanks need to — and are — being careful with Joba.

Game 114 Spillover Thread III
Robbie Cano powers Yanks offense to 4-3 win in extras
  • Rob H.

    correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you enhance the injury risk by switching a pitcher between the rotation to the bullpen and vice versa? That would put more strain on the arm than actually continuing to pitch on regular rest or extra rest in the rotation. So I really can’t see how people can complain about the yankees not worrying about Joba’s health.

  • Danny

    i dont get it though, so is it going to be a 6 man rotation every now and then, or will they play around with off days so the other pitchers will have regualr rest?

    • Rob H.

      maybe you’ll see the 5th guy skipped and Joba would take that spot on extra rest? That could be one way. Or they could give an extra day of rest to one or two of the other pitchers or play around with the off days as well. They have many options from the looks of it.

  • Zack

    “The entirety of his career is less than helpful. Joba threw 100.1 innings last year and just over 110 innings in 2007. What that means for this year is anyone’s guess. The Verducci Rule would cap Joba at 130 innings”

    isnt the Verducci Rule 30 innings? So wouldnt his cap be at 140 (if we go off of 07)?

    • The Artist

      Yeah, my understanding is 30-40 innings over your career high, not necessarily the previous season.

      Verducci’s stuff relates to the prior season, but I don’t think that’s what they’re following. I’ll assume they’re following advice from their Doctors, not a sportswriter.

      • huuz

        No the so-called rule is based on career highs.

        • The Artist

          That’s what I said.

          • huuz

            i thought that verducci’s rule is based on career highs.

            • The Artist

              No, if you’ve read any of his pre-season pieces on this he looks at pitchers who are under 25 years old who’ve had big innings jumps last season from the one before. So before this year he would have looked at guys who’ve had big innings jumps from 07-08. Those guys make ‘his list’. He’s kept track of this for years, and those pitchers have a high rate of injury and/or ineffectiveness.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            It is, in the first sentence, but then it got muddled in the second sentence when you said: “Verducci’s stuff relates to the prior season…” That’s where the confusion stems from.

      • Zack

        Oh forgot his stuff is about the prior season.
        Ha and yes he’s a sportswriter, but hes not just talking out of his ass like some guys we know (Francesa?), he’s actually did research with the numbers and following injuries and everything.

        • The Artist

          Oh yeah, he’s a good sportswriter and I’m not knocking him. I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that he’s not a doctor and doesn’t pretend to be one. He just uncovered an interesting trend with injury histories that has become very influential, and good for him.

          I think the Yanks are using ‘pitches thrown’ more than ‘Innings’ in any case, which is a more precise way of looking at this stuff.

          • Zack

            No I agree, if Player A uses 120 pitches to get through 5 and Player B uses 100 pitches to get through 5, do those 5 innings count the same?

            • Klemy

              Depends on the stress situations of those pitches, right? The more stressful the situations, the more weight in pitch count is my understanding.

          • jim p

            Joba’s pitches per inning is pretty much near what he did last year: ’09-17.08, ’08-17.05. Totals 2,078 this year; 1,711 last year.

            So while number of pitches is more precise, in Joba’s case innings/pitches is pretty much the same.

  • Lanny

    This is why these guys get paid the big bucks. They know how important Joba is long term and short term. Shouldn’t be too hard getting him to his innings. A nice lead helps accomplish that.

    Would have been nice to see them trade for a dependable back end starter to cover for him and let Mitre/Gaudin be the swingmen/spot starter.

  • Ed

    In the earlier Joba thread today, I did a little digging.

    In 2006, he pitched 89.1 innings in college and another 37.2 in Hawaiian Winter Ball. That gives you 127 innings as his highest season total, which is a little higher than the 100 and 110 innings we usually talk about.

    If you believe in using the pitcher’s previous high instead of last year’s total, about 160 looks safe, with 170 being possible. Past that is probably pushing it no matter how you look at it. I’m guessing the Yankees believe that your previous high water mark is the number you go by, otherwise, their handling of Hughes looks even worse.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Wasn’t Hughes’ high water mark in 2006? I think they’re really pushing it with him.

      • Ed

        Yeah, it was 2006 for Hughes. 146 IP. I’ve been thinking for a while that they’re pushing it with that old a benchmark…

        Quick estimate says:

        Hughes in AAA – 19.1 IP
        MLB – 67 IP (including today)
        Total – 86.1 IP

        He’s throwing about 15 innings a month in the pen, so that’s about 22 IP the rest of the regular season, or 108.1 IP. Toss in some postseason work, and he’s around 120 IP.

        If they make an effort to give him longer outings (say, have Aceves follow Mitre and Hughes follow Gaudin), they could get him to 130ish, maybe 140 if they push it.

      • The Artist

        With all the extra rest he’s getting between starts, he has plenty of time to recover physically. I think they’re being conservative with Joba. Main thing is to keep him strong, guys tend to get hurt when they’re tired.

  • Lanny

    The Verducci Edffect isn’t scientific. I would like to think that the NY Yankees know all about that and have plans in place for it. They just don’t pull 30 innings out of thin air. They study, research, report, analyze, etc. The last thing they’ll do is tell anyone.

  • The Artist

    Interesting side note on innings limits. The poster boy for the Anti-Innings limits is GM Nolan Ryan of Texas. He doesn’t believe in them, thinks pitchers should “build up their arms” by pitching.

    Guess what? Nolan never broke 152 innings until he was 25 years old. In his case it was unintentional, he had blister problems that kept him on the DL and he served weekends in the military during his first few seasons. But its ‘Do as I say, not as I did’ with Nolan.

    • Zack

      so why is Neftali Feliz in the bullpen if Ryan doesnt believe in inning limits?

    • jsbrendog

      he could do thayt? join the mlb while still in the military and then just leave weekends?

      • The Artist

        Sure, why not? If the team (Mets) was OK with it, then he’s good to go.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Pure speculation here… But I’d imagine the standard player contract these days wouldn’t allow military service, especially not during the regular season.. Of course, in Ryan’s case, it was 40 years ago, so all bets are off.

    • Jeremy

      Nolan Ryan : innings limits :: Carl Everett : dinosaurs

      • jsbrendog

        golf clap

      • Chris

        funniest thing I’ve read all day

  • Jake H

    I think giving him extra days off is smart. I also think that in the early part of September he should just pitch 5 innings. Then slowly build him back up a bit towards the end of September.

  • The Artist Formerly Known as (sic)

    “With this news, many Yankee fans will be up in arms. “How can they risk Joba’s health?” they will scream. “Why can’t they just put him into the pen?” None of us really know what the Yankees and their pitching coaches, a group of baseball professionals, know. They know the health risks, and they know Joba Chamberlain’s make up. For now, I’m willing to trust that. Hopefully, that trust will not be misplaced.”

    This is basically just an appeal to ignorance, I.e. “Well, we dont know what the plan is, we dont know what the risks are” combined with an appeal to authority “We’re not experts, they are”.

    That doesn’t make it invalid per se, as a logical argument, but its certainly not compelling reasoning. No, we dont have all the stats they have. But we do have his innings detail from ML, MILB and college. And no, we aren’t experts, but we can look at past results and conclude somewhat reasonably what to expect.

    It would have been better to display evidence that blowing past innings limits doesn’t always mean injury, or speculate on a perceived pitch limit that the team might have in place.

    But that’s just me.

    • Ed

      It would have been better to display evidence that blowing past innings limits doesn’t always mean injury,

      Verducci’s research shows really clearly that the odds are very high of large performance regression and/or injury if you blow past innings limits. Some guys are ok, but most aren’t.

      Or speculate on a perceived pitch limit that the team might have in place.

      The problem with that is Joba has consistently had high pitch counts this season. He usually gets yanked from games due to hitting 100 pitches, not due to innings. His limit would probably be lower than we think if you went off pitches.

      • The Artist Formerly Known as (sic)

        Oh yes, definitely to both of those things. I do not think there is an upside to blowing past innings limits, nor do I think that a pitch count limit would help here. I was simply offering different ways of evaluating the fact that Yanks officials seem content to let him blow past 140-150 other than the appeal to ignorance/authority.

        I for one think there’s not a whole lotta good to be found in this scenario.

    • Moshe Mandel

      You make a fair point. And actually, much of the advanced scholarship on this issue suggests that Verducci is wrong, and that a jump of 30 innings does not make you more likely to get injured.

      • The Artist

        I’ll guess they use either older pitchers as a control group or other pitchers the same age who didn’t have big innings jumps. I’ve always wondered about that with his theory. You can point out the rate of injury in one group of pitchers, but the very next question should be “compared to what?” Do all pitchers at that age get hurt at similar rates?

        But there is a ton of sports medicine that shows if an athlete is fatigued, the muscles do less of the work and the tendons and ligaments do more, leading to injury. So if an athlete is tired by going further physically than he ever has before, the fatigue alone could get him hurt. Of course, a poorly conditioned athlete in May could experience the same thing.

        • Moshe Mandel

          You hit the nail on the head. The problem with the Verducci effect is the control group, something Verducci does not seem to use. The stuff I am referencing dispels Verducci’s idea of 30 IP being a cutoff point. That does not mean that there is not a cutoff point, just that Tom has it wrong.

  • Dela G

    this whole inning limits thing will come back to haunt the rangers in the future

  • MattG

    The “Verducci Rule” is really nothing more than an astute observation that needs further scrutiny. Baseball Prospectus’s PAPs seems to already far exceed it, and I would guess the Yankees have their own measure that far exceeds that.

    The less sophisticated the tool, the more inaccurate the measurement. With a better way to measure Joba’s threshold, the more likely the ‘cap’ is different from initially perceived.

    And September 1 is almost here, and with it brings many innings from all that can be crammed onto the 40 man roster. Some of Nova, MacAllister, Kroenke, Kennedy, and dare even Igawa, might make Joba’s mini-vacations more possible.

    • Doug

      My problem with “mini-vacations” for Joba is that after 7, 8, 9-days rest, he’s likely to have command issues when he does pitch. And this about a guy who, on his best days, doesn’t have full control of his arsenal.

      • PinstripesForeverDougie

        Reluctantly, IETC.

        Hope you gets a chance to develop a groove before the season ends. The last thing the Universe would want to see is a out of sync Joba going into the Division Series.

        • PinstripesForeverDougie

          Hope he* gets a chance….


        • Klemy

          Yeah. I’d like to believe they’d get him consecutive starts before a series like that to get in sync.

    • Renny Baseball

      Ian Kennedy’s name was mentioned. His case worries me in that he was one of the people who Verducci singled out in his pre-2008 list as an injury risk for exceeding the 30+ innings differential in the prior year. True enough, he did get injured in 2008, and worse, an aneurysm this season (Notably, in 1996, David Cone believed that his aneurysm was caused by over-use by Buck Showalter in the 1995 ALDS series, according to Joe Torre’s book).

      This suggests that maybe trusting Cashman and crew, carte blanche, to mastermind rules to protect young pitchers like Joba is scary. Especially if they are not building in a lesser target for regular season innings to factor in post-season innings. Now I get that Verducci principle might apply to career high innings as the starting base (127 innings in 2006 counting the Hawaiian League) and not necessarily the most immediate prior year, but it is evident that there’s been a slipshod approach to all of this by this team. Why wasn’t Joba more carefully regulated in the first 2/3 of the season, but only now? This conflicts the idea that “there’s been a plan all along.” Similarly, the team has not appeared to have a well thought-out year-long plan with Phil Hughes, but rather that’s been ad-hoc too.

      I hope I am wrong and that our Joba is with us for a full injury-free season next year but this group managing Joba and Hughes does not inspire confidence.

  • niln

    I would give Jobe one week vacation in his Hometown like the All-star vacation. It probably charged his energy.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      Complete with driver.

  • MikeD

    Can we get past the so-called Verducci Rules? No team in MLB follows the 30-inning cap. The concept is fine, and teams today are more aware of not abusing their pitchers at a young age, but there are so many other factors involved with young pitchers breaking down that have little to do with the magic 30-inning Verducci rule.

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    normally i trust the management and coaches to do the right thing (and by that i mean to do what can generally be considered to be the smart thing at the time – i’m not assuming everything will work out well because taht’s just unrealistic)

    However with their pitchers and injuries I think i have to worry a bit extra – the instructions to Wang over the winter don’t inspire confidence. A couple of years ago all the pitchers hamstrings popped at the same time – i know there were immediate changes to the staff but even so.

    I know I would not do nearly as good a job as than them, but i’m not confident they will do that good a job…

  • Steve S

    What I would like to know is how do teams account for warming up, side sessions, spring training innings, etc…? Also, how do innings in October skew or impact the results? In all fairness it looks like Cole Hamels has had a tough year and it seems to be from his extraordinary jump in innings from 2007 to 2008.

    I think its an imperfect science since a lot of this is due to genetics since every pitcher/person has different mechanics, different strengths and different weaknesses. I dont know and I think this is the only realistic method the Yankees can use. Lets be honest the Yankees have invested $200,000,000 into this season and the goal is to win a World Series. Yes the ultimate goal is to win multiple World Series and that goal is strengthened by protecting Joba. But the reality is that injuries, especially to pitchers (see CMW) are somewhat random.

    I said a month ago that they would ignore the innings limit when it came down to it because of the potential of this team. I give them credit that they are willing to go this far, to actually take innings away from him and give them to the likes of Gaudin and Mitre. And as angry as I have been about Phil Hughes remaining in the bullpen. It seems like they may have learned something from last year from Joba, that it isnt the best course to have someone be a short reliever and then transition them midseason into a starter. I would hope that would do their due diligence but for everyone concerned about the risks to Joba and the investment in the future, lets be honest that investment will be secondary compared to the investment in 2009.

  • Klemy

    I agree that the whole Verducci rule is basically a base format. There are so many factors beyond it that risk injury. I trust our team management to make the right decisions for now and the future, because that’s what they’re paid to do and our team has been pretty damned successful over the years.

    I’m happy to know he’ll be in the post season rotation and I hope he steps up to the challenge. It’ll be a great career stepping stone for him if he is up to task.