Competition or not, Joba and Hughes a bright spot this week


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.

Categories : Spring Training
  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    Heh… I like how the only spring training games that “matter” are games against the Phillies.

    We should petition Bud Selig’d office to cut the Grapefruit league into two separate leagues. We don’t ever want any ST games scheduled against the Pirates, Astros, Nationals, Blue Jays, Mets, Marlins, Braves, or Orioles; THOSE TEAMS SUCK AND THE EXHIBITIONS ARE WORTHLESS! WORTHLESS!

    We want to be in the Grapefruit Premier League™: Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, Phillies, Cardinals, and Rays. Just a seven team round robin.

    Everyone else is beneath us.

  • Steve H

    What a nice problem to have. While I have no illusions that yesterday was the biggest day of Joba’s life, as some would have you believe, I am happy to see he pitched well yesterday. All things considered, I still beleive it’s Joba’s spot to lose.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      While I have no illusions that yesterday was the biggest day of Joba’s life, as some would have you believe, I am happy to see he pitched well yesterday.

      “Joba, I don’t want to put any undue pressure on you, but if you don’t pitch well tonight… I’m gonna have to get your balls.”

      Joe “Tyler Durden” Girardi

  • A.D.

    Joba postpones bust status for another few days!

    • Steve H

      Joba postpones inevitable return to bullpen, where he will again throw 105 MPH, for another few days!

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        It’s in his “temperament”. It’s science.

  • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

    I will thoroughly and utterly be disappointed if Joba doesn’t not make 5th starter.Unless of course Joba somehow bombs between now and the start of the season. Even then, they spent 2 years basically holding him back and “babying” him just to put him in the pen.

  • TheBronxBlogger

    I know Girardi told them they dont have to work on changes and different pitches, but just pitch for results. Still, Hughes threw his changeup. Was Joba working on anything the same way? I dont recall reading anything like that.

    • kunaldo

      He was working on being The Balls.

      • Steve H


      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        C. Montgomery Girardi: You there, Chamberlain! Strike this fellow out on three pitches.
        Joba Chamberlain: Sure thing, skip!
        [Chamberlain strikes him out]
        C. Montgomery Girardi: See that? I told him to do that.

    • whozat

      Joba was working on effectively pitching inside earlier this spring. Them telling him to come in more and him sucking at it would explain his propensity for hitting guys last season too, so it seems possible that this is an area where he could use improvement.

  • YankeeScribe

    It seems like a lot of posters on this blog favor Joba over Hughes for the 5th starter role. Why favor one over the other?

    • Steve H

      For 2010, I prefer Joba due to the lack of innings limits, more major league experience and success. I also think he has more upside as a starter as he has better stuff.

      For 2011 forward, I want them both in the rotation.

      • TheBronxBlogger

        While I prefer Hughes of Joba, I want whichever will pitch better in the season. I know Joba has an the advantage of more experience, I question the sucess. I think theyre more even then most people here do.

        As for the future, they both deserve shots at starting.

        Still, the thought amont most posters here is that Joba is the favorite.

        • Steve H

          Joba, until he hit his previous innings high last year had an ERA of around 3.50. Even if Hughes had success early this year as a starter, he may hit that same wall in August that Joba did. Joba, for a 1st year starter as a 23 year old in the AL East had quite a bit of success. He had glimpses of domination and glimpses of a 23 year old starter in the AL East. Take a look at Wade Davis in Tampa this year. People are expecting big things out of him as a rookie, and he’s Joba’s age, with almost 700 more innings of minor league experience. Joba (and Phil) is a very young, inexperienced, but extremely talented pitcher. I do agree that I want the best guy starting, but I want the best guy starting from April-October. I think Joba’s more predictable for a full season than Hughes, as he has done it before.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size


            Again, as starters, career:
            Joba: 43 starts, 221.2 IP/980 BF (5.1 IP/S, 22.7 BF/S, 4.4 BF/IP), 4.18 ERA, 1.480 WHIP, .266/.351/.407 against, 8.4 K/9, 2.04 K/BB
            Phil: 28 starts, 141.1 IP/621 BF (5.0 IP/S, 22.1 BF/S, 4.4 BF/IP), 5.22 ERA, 1.436 WHIP, .265/.341/.436 against, 7.1 K/9, 1.90 K/BB

            As relievers, career:
            Joba: 50 appearances, 60.0 IP/237 BF, 1.50 ERA, 0.983 WHIP, .182/.255/.257 against, 11.9 K/9, 3.95 K/BB
            Phil: 44 appearances, 51.1 IP/193 BF, 1.40 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, .172/.228/.228 against, 11.4 K/9, 5.00 K/BB

            Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “Why do you guys prefer Joba over Hughes”, but “Why don’t other people prefer Joba over Hughes”?

            Because they should. Both Joba and Hughes have shown ace potential, but Joba has realized that potential more so far. As short relievers, they’re equals. As starting pitchers, Joba’s been demonstrably better thus far.

    • Mike Axisa

      Just because they made so much progress with Joba’s innings situation last year that it would be pretty foolish to go back on that now. He’s got a full, uncapped year ahead of him now. Let’s see what he’s got.

      • TheBronxBlogger

        I agree with you on that Mike, I just hope they dont force him in just because of that, instead of overlooking Hughes because he is slightly behind in his development.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        That. The best way for Joba and Phil to be starters long term is for them to be starters now; one of them is going to have that development track pushed back by not pitching in a rotation this year; Joba is closer to the end of his development track that it would be foolish to end it prematurely now.

        • gc

          What do you think the chances are that both of them see significant time in the rotation THIS year (due to injury to another starter or whatever)?

          • Steve H

            I think pretty low, as whomever ends up in the bullpen will likely be pitching one inning at a time. Unless a starter goes down with a season ending injury in April, I don’t think they’ll shift them to the rotation. They’d likely just go with someone who would be more stretched out, like Gaudin or Aceves.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size


      A.) is further along in his development as a starter, so he’s more equipped with experience to be a solid #5 this year (221.2 IP with a 4.18 ERA as a starter, vs. 141.1 IP with a 5.22 ERA as a starter for Phil)
      B.) has no innings restrictions and has spent the past two years progressively building up his arm strength so that he’s good to go 200 IP+, while Phil will be restricted and would likely have to be removed from the rotation at some point
      C.) won’t have his development track derailed by moving to the bullpen for the year, while Phil’s track was already derailed due to being in the bullpen last year

    • Matt Imbrogno

      What Steve and Mike said. Joba’s got more experience as an ML starter, he’s had better results, and he’s farther along in his development. Plus, I think his ceiling is a touch higher than Hughes’. 2011 on, though, they both need to be starting.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Shorter Matt: “Tell ‘em Steve-Mike.”

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Would you like a chocolate covered pretzel?

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            :: vomits in mouth ::

    • YankeeScribe

      I don’t see why people say Joba has more upside than Hughes. Statistically, Hughes isn’t very far behind Joba. I agree that Joba has the edge since he has had more ML starts.

      • Matt Imbrogno

        I think it’s because he has better stuff and a wider range of pitches.

  • Jimmy

    Worrying so much about the fifth starter makes me miss the days when Joe Cowley was the Ace.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      We could get in a Hot Tub Time Machine and go relive it!

      • whozat

        You know, if it weren’t for that dude from the office, I would have no desire to see that film.

    • Snakes on the mother effin plane

      I’m more of an Aleister Crowley guy myself.

    • DCBX

      Leary-Witt-Hawkins-LaPoint-Eiland… them’s were the good ol days.

  • pete

    to me the fact that his breaking ball looked good and he was able to work quickly were the most important features in yesterday’s outing. if he had given up 3 HR, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference – he pitched in a way that foretold likely success, he didn’t just happen upon a brief 3 innings of ST success. in short, suck it, bitches.

  • Mick the Quick

    Bottom line:

    Hughe’s temperment and arsenal are better suited for the starting rotation.

    Joba: The tale of two pitchers – as a SP average FB of 91 mph and off speed pitches that run up his pitch count because he can’t get them over for strikes. Just doesn’t look confident, too many shake-offs of the catcher’s calls, pitch count gets elevated and he takes forever in between pitches – probably overthinking.

    As a RP – a confident beast with a 96 mph FB, a biting slider that he only uses as a putaway pitch with 2 strikes.

    No brainer – set-up man and heir to the Rivera throne.

    • Jeremy

      I really thought that the Beckett Game would put an end to comments like this. How naive I was!

      • Steve H

        Joba can put up Pedro in 2000 numbers and people will still want him in the pen.

    • Steve H

      Hughe’s temperment and arsenal are better suited for the starting rotation

      You’re wrong on the arsenal part.

      Tell me how you have any clue about Joba’s temperament, and how that translates to a different role? Doesn’t have have a similar temperment to Josh Beckett/Randy Johnson/Roger Clemens, etc? yes, he does. They are rather successful starting pitchers.

  • Mick the Quick

    Sorry Steve but as a SP Joba’s temperament is more of a pitcher who is unsure of himself. As a RP his temperment is more like your references. If Hughes comes out of ST with the change, he’ll have 4 quality pitches that he can throw for strikes.

    • Steve H

      Joba had a 3.58 thru July last year, in the AL East, as a 23 year old.

      How was his temperament then?

    • Steve H

      And how is Hughes temperament more suited for the rotation?

      Joba has a better ERA as a starter than Hughes does.
      Hughes has a better ERA as a reliever than Joba does.

      But you’re telling me they should be in opposite roles?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Joba: 43 starts, 221.2 IP, 4.18 ERA, .266/.351/.407 against, 8.4 K/9, 2.04 K/BB
      Phil: 28 starts, 141.1 IP, 5.22 ERA, .265/.341/.436 against, 7.1 K/9, 1.90 K/BB

      Joba’s “unsure temperament” has produced better results as a starter than Phil Hughes’s “temperament”. If Hughes has a better mental makeup and more confidence, there’s zero evidence that he can use those things to actually pitch better than Joba Chamberlain.

      Joba: 50 appearances, 60.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, .182/.255/.257 against, 11.9 K/9, 3.95 K/BB
      Phil: 44 appearances, 51.1 IP, 1.40 ERA, .172/.228/.228 against, 11.4 K/9, 5.00 K/BB

      Joba’s better “bullpen temperament” has lead to him being EXACTLY AS EFFECTIVE as Phil and his calmer, more confident, less emotional temperament.

      In summary:

      Joba: emotional and unsure of himself
      Phil: cool and unflappable
      Value of those “temperaments” in making one pitcher more suited to one role than the other: zero

  • Mick the Quick

    Even during that 3 game stretch leading up to the all star game that gave him those numbers, if you watched those games back in detail – he was more lucky than good. He can’t get by with a 91 MPH FB as a starter. Hell, Ace can do that!

    Let’s agree to healthily disagree but to me he will end up a run-of-the-mill starter or become a dominant closer.

    • Steve H

      He can’t get by with a 91 MPH FB as a starter.

      But Hughes can?

      • Flippa

        Hughes can’t either. They will both make fantastic set up men this season.

  • Opus

    People love radar gun readings.

    • DCBX

      Kyle Farnsworth says hi. :)

  • Mick the Quick

    Steve, if Joba can start pumping 95 MPH with command as a starter and maintain it through 100 pitches, I will be the first to come back and tell you I was wrong and you were right – but for some reason we haven’t seen that from him since he hurt his shoulder in 2008 – and we might not see it again.

  • Mick the Quick

    Yes cause Hughes has other pitches he can throw for strikes and just for clarity he’s in the 92 – 93 range as a starter and benefits to 94 – 95 as a RP.

    • Jack
    • Steve H

      Hughes, as a starter, has an average fastball of 91.2. Joba last year was 92.5. And Joba’s slider is better than any of Hughes’ secondary pitches. They are both starters long term, but Joba should be the guy this year, and has more upside long term.

      Again, Joba has been much better than Hughes as a starter, so why all of the sudden do you think Hughes can maintain anything through 100 pitches either? There’s no evidence to back up that Hughes has that ability and Joba doesn’t.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Please use the reply button. Thanks in advance.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      In order of usage:

      Joba’s fastball, even a diminished version of it > Hughes’s fastball
      Joba’s slider >>>>>>>>> Hughes’s curveball
      Joba’s curveball = Hughes’s cutter (more or less)
      Joba’s changeup >>>>>> Hughes’s changeup

      • CS Yankee

        My views…

        Joba’s heater vs. Hughes’s heater…..advantage Joba
        Joba’s slider vs. Hughes’s hook…….push
        Joba’s changeup vs. Hughes’s ???…..advantage joba
        Joba’s hook vs…..Hughes’s ????…..advantage joba

        Hughes has proven two pitches but in fairness has been working hard on the changeup….but is unproven.

        Love them both talentwise, but Joba is 1 to 1 1/2 years ahead of Hughes. Joba gets to be #5 stater unless injury or mental breakdown occurs in 2010.

        Hughes to AAA as a SP in case of injury….if no injury come June bring him up in a setup role to get his 150-175 IP and set the table for him as a starter in 2011.

        • Mick the Quick


          I agree on the FB but I’d give Joba the ad on slider, Phil on the hook, and its too early to tell for either one of them on the change.

          • CS Yankee


            I was just comparing their #2 rated pitches which i believe is Joba’s slider versus Hughes’s curve. Phil is known for two great pitches, Joba 3 to 4.

            Hughes is having success with the changeup this Spring and i believe he will develop into a solid 2-4 MLB SP. Joba is no Verlander, but it all comes together he could be a #1 for some team (Yanks need them to be top 10 worthy though), but I would rather have him here as a solid starter.

  • Mick the Quick

    Me think there are a few too many drinkers of the Joba Kool-Aid in here…but that is just my humble opinion. A year ago, I was with you but you can’t honestly tell me that you do not notice the difference in Joba from when he is starting and relieving – everything from body language to confidence to stuff to results. It’s night and day. But hey, if this is our main concern, there are a lot of other teams out there that wished they had this problem. Time will tell, but here’s to both of the young studs having long and productive Yankee careers.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      You’re new here, and welcome aboard. We love multiple perspectives in the conversation.

      Please, please, please use the reply button, though. It keeps the conversation more organized and easier to follow.

      A year ago, I was with you but you can’t honestly tell me that you do not notice the difference in Joba from when he is starting and relieving – everything from body language to confidence to stuff to results.

      It’s not that we don’t notice the difference in Joba the starter v. Joba the reliever, it’s that we don’t care about the difference in Joba the starter v. Joba the reliever. Joba the unsure, non-confident, incomplete and raw starter still adds more value to the team than Joba the superconfident, brash, overpowering, emotional, dominant reliever.

      It’s not that we disagree with your evaluations of Joba or Phil’s emotions in their various roles, it’s just that we know (from empirical evidence and analysis) that average starters are more central to a team’s success than elite relievers, so we don’t care who profiles better as a starter or a reliever “temperament-wise”, we want BOTH of them to be starters.

      • Flippa

        Why do you act like you run this?

  • mryankee

    I am not a Joba kool aid drinker. I do believe he can throw the 95-96 mph for some reason he does not and that is what bother me. Finally Girardi got in his face a little and he pitched well. I do not want Joba to start pulling Ian Kennedy type excuses. Joba needs to know if he is to be an ace he needs to pitch as he did in the Beckett game every time out. I do not think you need to be a pitching coach to figure that out.

    • gc

      #5 starter. Just sayin’.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        That’s the second time in the past 24 hours you’ve “just said” exactly that. You’re not “just sayin” enough. You need to expand and expound your argument.

        • gc

          For the record, I would have been more than happy to expand and expound on my comment if you had ASKED me to and didn’t dictate to me exactly what I “need to do.” But since I’m guessing (and hoping) that your intent was to help me be a more productive and efficient member of this community (something I am eager to be), I’ll respond.

          From the sounds of it, some people are insisting that Joba has to pitch like an ace because the team has stated they see great (possibly top shelf) potential in him. One of these years, he may indeed be asked to be the ace of the staff. The reality, however, is that it’s 2010 and the Yankees do not need for Joba to be their ace, or even pitch like an ace. That doesn’t mean they don’t need for him to pitch as well as he can given the context of his development. But demanding that he must pitch like Josh Beckett every time out seems a bit over the top, don’t you think? This is the #5 starter we’re talking about. Let’s all relax a bit.


          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Thank you, and well said.

            You just added value.

            • pete

              dare i say, starter value?

  • Flippa

    They will both be great in the pen this year. Aceves starting. A lockdown pen. Another title.