Joel Sherman of The Post is reporting news out of Yankee camp I had feared would come. If the Yankees reach the ALCS, they will probably ask Chad Gaudin to start Game 4 while leaving Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen. Writes Sherman:
The Yankees would not finalize plans unless they beat Minnesota. But in informal planning sessions there is a growing consensus to keep Chamberlain in the pen throughout the playoffs.
That reflects how precious each win is in the postseason, and that Chamberlain could be used in nearly every winnable game as part of a late-game lockdown trio with Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera. But it also has to do with the Yankees’ internal belief that Gaudin outperformed Chamberlain as a starter down the stretch…If the Yankees and Red Sox met in the ALCS, the Yankees might reconsider. But even under that scenario the sentiment is to start Gaudin.
The Yankees want Chamberlain available to impact multiple games as a reliever rather than be a questionable starter for one game. Even if Gaudin were to have a short start, the Yankees have Alfredo Aceves and possibly even Chamberlain to eat up innings in long relief.
When Chamberlain appeared in last night’s game in his old 8th inning role and Joe Girardi used him for two pitches to get one out, I said to myself that Joba would not be leaving the pen. As long as he gets outs and throws strikes, the Yankees will be seduced by his mentality out of the bullpen, and as Sherman notes, the pen can take on added importance in a short series.
I would prefer to see Joba Chamberlain start in the ALCS. It’s part of his development as a starter, and he’s slated to go just one game. I also fear that he this move may reignite the debate over Joba’s proper role. If he has a lockdown post-season, the fans, those that cover the team and even some of the players and coaches may very well clamor for a misguided return to the pen for the Yanks’ young arm.
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