While responding to Jeteupthemiddle Allie’s Community Projections post, I was thinking about Phil Hughes and how the Yankees are going to manage his innings limit since he only threw 105 and a third innings this past season. According to Tom Verducci’s rule, any young pitcher that increases their innings told by more than 30 innings is at a higher risk of injury the year after. If the Yankees use Hughes like they did Chamberlain last year, then that limit is a soft number. So if you factor that in, that puts Hughes only hurling around 150 innings.
So, that got me thinking. What if there is a plan somewhere in the mess they’ve created? For now, Hughes is in the rotation and Chamberlain is in the bullpen. With that, there is a side benefit of humbling Chamberlain, as well as the fact that perhaps they are going to use it to build Joba’s arm strength in a different way.
In 2008, when Joba transitioned from the bullpen to the rotation, he somewhat maintained a greater velocity than when he transitioned from the rotation to the bullpen. He was still the first pumping Joba we had all been wooed by back then. Perhaps going all out in the bullpen during the beginning of 2008 helped him maintain that intensity and arm strengh throughout the year even as a starter, allowing him to throw harder. Conversely, in 2009, he came out of the gate the subdued “professional” Joba. Perhaps he does need to go back to the pen, just to help his starting career and re-gain the Wild Thing. If Hughes and Chamberlain can split their starts 20-12, there are roughly 280 innings to be had amongst a multi-inning bullpen role and a 5th starter spot. If you split them out such that Hughes throws 150 innings and Chamberlain throws 130 innings, both of them would be capable of starting in the 2011 rotation, rein free. If that’s the plan, it sounds like something I could live with.