Ah…Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves…who will win the coveted last spot in the Yankees 2010 starting rotation?
Well, I would be shocked if it’s Sergio Mitre…because that means Hughes and Chamberlain, in some combination, go to the bullpen or the minors. Either both go to the pen, or one goes with the other heading to Triple-A, or maybe they both get sent down to Scranton? And, I find any of that unlikely to happen…now.
Alfredo Aceves? I have little doubt that he can’t be a somewhat useful fifth starter for a big league team. Heck, I’d rather give him 30 starts, at this stage of his career, than guys like Livan Hernandez, Brian Moehler or Kyle Davies. But, I stress useful here so that it’s not confused with “great” or even “very good.” Yet, I just have a hunch that General Joe is more likely to use Aceves as a trusted long man out of the pen (with Mitre being a long-man in mop-up situations) – at least to start the 2010 season.
Really, this “battle” is all about Chamberlain and Hughes. And, most seem to think that Hughes will be announced as the winner…very soon.
So, here’s my prediction: If Phil Hughes is selected to be the Yankees 5th starter, to begin this season, one of three things will happen – and two of them are bad. Maybe Hughes will hold his own and make 30 starts in 2010? If he does, that would be good. But, I think the odds are greater that he will get exposed as a starter (due to his lacking a third quality pitch and the abililty to get lefties out) and/or he will get injured and end up on the disabled list – as often seems to be the case when he’s asked to carry the load of starting for a full season.
Now, Chamberlain, on the other hand, is another story. Is he too confident? Is he delusional? Is he too head-strong? We’ve heard this type of stuff in the past. Also, is he already past his peak – even though he’s just 24-years old? Hey, it’s happened in the past with pitchers. Granted, I’m not saying that he’s going to be terrible now…just never again as great as he was in 2007.
In the end, factoring all this all in…regarding the fifth spot in the Yankees 2010 rotation…at this junction what I feel most sure about is: Whomever gets the job to start this season probably won’t be the guy who owns it for most of the season. And, the player who will make the most starts for the Yankees following Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte and Vazquez is “To Be Determined.” And, that goes for now, next week, three weeks from now, and maybe some time after that as well.