Via Chad Jennings -
For Joba Chamberlain, it’s the same old story, the same old question. Ninety-three games into his major-league career, he’s officially a starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter.
“I think when they stop talking about me is when I probably should worry,” Chamberlain said.
“I think he’s a starter pitching out of the pen,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “When you have the exceptional ability like Joba has, they move ahead of their development plan. I’m just proud of the fact that this organization doesn’t forget that there’s still a development plan for the development of this guy. Just because he has the New York on the chest doesn’t mean you throw it out the door.”
The Joba Rules were meant to protect Chamberlain’s arm for this season, when there would finally be no innings limit to consider. No question to answer.
“I don’t think it was wasted,” Cashman said. “I think we finished off his development plan, and we have choices with him now. He can start if we need him to start, he can relieve if we need him to relieve. I don’t feel it’s a waste at all. I think we completed the mission on him and what will be, will be.”
“He could have been in the minor leagues the past two years as a starter, not helping us win a championship,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Would he have been a full-fledged starter right now, none of us really knows.”
Out of the bullpen, Chamberlain said he will go back to his old two-pitch combination. He might mix in a changeup or a curveball from time to time — “Just in case you need to fool somebody every once in a while,” he said — but he’ll lean on his fastball and slider. And the Yankees trust that his velocity will jump back into the upper-90s like it was when he pitched out of the bullpen in the past.
“He seems more amped obviously, and you can be coming out of the pen,” Cashman said. “You can just let it fly.”
“I can’t think about being a starter at this point,” [Joba] said. “For me to help this team right now, it’s being in the bullpen and trying to get guys out there. It’s unfair to my team to think about something else.”
Chamberlain might not be a part of it, but the debate continues. Should he pitch long outings out of the rotation or short innings out of the bullpen?
“I can say I’m happy with myself because I gave it everything I’ve got,” Chamberlain said. “Hughes just beat me. That’s it, the long and the short of it.”
And, via Mark Feinsand -
Chamberlain plans to return to the fastball-slider combination that made him so successful in the eighth-inning setup role in 2007 and ’08.
“Those are the pitches we’re going to go to,” Chamberlain said yesterday. “We’re still going to have the other ones in case you have to fool someone every once in a while, but those worked out of the bullpen before so we’ll continue to go to those.”
Chamberlain acknowledged his disappointment over losing out to Phil Hughes, who gave up one run in three innings Friday night, in the battle to be the No. 5 starter, but now that he’s back in the bullpen, he’s ready to take on that challenge and try to recapture the magic of his rookie season.
“It could be worse; they could be talking about sending me down,” Chamberlain said. “You have to embrace the fact that they’re talking about me helping the team in some shape or form. It’s really nothing new for me. I’ll just click back into that other mode.”
“When they stop talking about me, that’s when I should worry,” Chamberlain said. “I don’t know if it’s ever going to end, but we’ll see. I’m going to take this role and embrace it.”
Chamberlain pitched in 116 innings in 2007, 100 innings in 2008, and in 164 innings in 2009, thereabouts, combining time in the minors, majors, and post-season. That’s his professional career to date. Let’s say he says in the pen all year this season. And, assume he doesn’t miss any time. What’s he going to throw in 2010 – maybe around 70-80 innings pitched?
If that happens, and then the Yankees want to make him a starter in 2011, at (then) age 25, how many innings can you expect from him? It’s probably not going to be more than 170 innings – unless you want to take risk with his young arm. That’s an OK number of innings from a starting pitcher who makes 27-30 starts in a season. Actually, it’s a nice number.
But, can you do that – meaning bump a young pitcher from 80 bullpen innings one season to 170 starter innings in the next season?
Wel, that’s what the Yankees are pretty much asking Phil Hughes to do this season. So, I suppose, pretty soon…we’ll find out.