For a team with not many issues at stake this spring, the Yankees continue to generate headlines. We discussed this a bit yesterday morning. After Phil Hughes pitched well the headlines declared him solidly in the fifth starter race, perhaps the leader. As a bonus, we got plenty of headlines on Joba Chamberlain’s scheduled start, most noting that it was his last chance to remain a rotation consideration. He relished the opportunity, pitching very well and even needing a bullpen session afterwards because he was so efficient during the game. So where does this leave us?
Probably in the same place we were when the week started. Sure, both Chamberlain and Hughes instilled confidence in us, if not the Yankees’ brass, by pitching well in their appearances. Spring stats still don’t count, but even so no one wants to see their promising young pitchers get rocked, especially by the substitutes in the late innings. But, same as yesterday, I wonder if the starts had any real impact on the decision.
If there really is a competition — if the Yankees will use spring performances as one criteria for deciding who pitches behind Javy Vazquez — I’m not sure whether the results made the Yankees lean one way or another. If one of the two had pitched poorly perhaps it would have swayed them one way or another. But they both pitched well, so again, if they’re making the decision based on this it would seem that both Hughes and Chamberlain are on even ground. Perhaps Chamberlain would win the tiebreaker, since he faced presumably better hitters. But, as I said yesterday, I’m not sure the Yankees are evaluating the race on these terms.
However they are doing it, they have to be happy with what they’ve seen over the past few days. Both Hughes and Chamberlain still have challenges ahead. Joba, for instance, will face the Phillies starters next time around rather than their scrubs. Hughes will likely get a similar chance next week. Aceves will also get another audition in the next couple of days. If it’s a real competition, we could learn a bit in the next five days. If not, well, hopefully we’ll just enjoy some quality exhibition performances.