180 IP > 75 IP

There are few debates that aggravated me more last year than the one about Joba Chamberlain’s role. Thankfully, that debate has been ended:

Some believe Chamberlain’s highest value is as the eighth-inning bridge to Mariano Rivera, while others think the 23-year-old fireballer better serves the Yankees by pitching five, six or seven innings every fifth day.

The only voices that matter in this debate are the ones that make the decisions for the Yankees, namely general manager Brian Cashman, skipper Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland, who all firmly believe that Chamberlain’s future is in the starting rotation. That’s where the Yankees say he’ll begin this season.

“I understand that (other) side of the argument,” Eiland said. “There’s no denying what he did out of the pen. Could we put him back there right now and have him do the same thing? Sure. But power guys don’t come around that often with the four pitches that he has. When they do, they’re in a rotation somewhere – usually in the top three spots.”

Well, given that this is New York, I suppose the debate is only over until the first time he doesn’t pitch a shutout over eight innings. But still.

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  1. MooseinOhio said...

    It appears that he could be successful as both a starter and as a reliever/replacement for Mariano but we only have longer term evidence to support the reliever argument.  Let him start for half a season, allow teams to see him extended for 6-7 innings and develop a book on him for future starts to see if he is #1 or 2 starter that he appears to be. 

    If he struggles, move him back to the pen for the second half of the season.  If he is successful he helps the pen by pitching extended innings and Cashman can trade for late inning pitcher in July.  However the only way you’ll know is he needs a minimum of 15 to 20 starts to make a decent assessment.

    As a Red Sox fan I hope Cashman loses his mind for a day and trades him to any NL team as I believe he has both the physical ability and moxie necessary to really good in either role.  He will contribute to many a Yankee win in either role so for me it doesn’t matter if he starts or is in the pen – he’s a Yankee and I will root against him.

  2. Matt S. said...

    I am so often surprised by this debate. What it really shows is how much casual fans fail to see the inherent value difference that exists between starters and relievers.

    Similar debates have cropped up in Boston over Justin Masterson and several years ago over Papelbon’s role. Paps ended that argument himself by choosing the closer role, but it appears that Masterson is being projected to start this year, despite the signings of Smoltz and Penney. I’m glad to see management in both Boston and New York are ignoring the fan rumblings and choosing the highest value for the team.

    Fans only want Joba or Masterson to pitch from the pen because they are in love with the idea of an unhittable duo for the 8th and 9th innings. When you watch only several dozen games a year, you remember when you saw your team blow a 2 run lead much better then you remember the five or six times you protected it. Those loses just stick with you (ask a Mets fan). It is completely a case of anecdotal evidence versus statistical. There is no way it makes sense to put your best arms in the bullpen. Joba starts, Masterson starts, period.

  3. susan mullen said...

    An 8th inning man can mean different things. Mariano in that role in 1996 pitched 107.2 innings in regular season, 14.1 IP in post season for a total of 122 innings. In the World Series he pitched in 4 of the 6 games, including a stretch of 3 days in a row.

  4. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Everyone I’ve spoken with from the metro NYC area believes Joba’s a starter.  We’re not quite as panicky as the papers make it out to be…


  5. Alex K said...

    I think a lot of people want Joba to be in the bullpen.  Just listen to the callers on sports talk radio in the area….

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