Saturday, April 11, 2009

How to Better the NY Yankees' Pitching: Joba in 'Pen, Hughes in Rotation

Joba Chamberlain hasn't even made his first start of the season, but the Yankees are making a big mistake by keeping him in the rotation and out of the bullpen.

The Yankees' pitching rotation is stacked with three guys who could be top starters on many other teams and Andy Pettitte, who can get the job done. Joba is in the fifth slot, but the management's logic does not make sense.

The front office wants Joba to be a starter. He pitched very well in 12 starts last season and threw stuff that shouted, "potential number one starter!" But in a year when pitching was weak, Joba's dominant starts made everyone in New York forget about his incredible career in the bullpen.

In his 30 relief appearances last season, Joba allowed only nine earned runs. Only one earned run was charged to Joba in 2007. The 230-pound flamethrower is so dangerous coming out of the bullpen.

If Joba is sent back to the bullpen, the Yankees can play a six-inning game. They can let their starter go six, Phil Coke/Jose Veras/Brian Bruney go one, and then have the deadly combo of Joba and Mariano Rivera to pitch the eighth and ninth.

The Yankees' offense just needs to get a lead at any point in the game, and once the game hits the seventh inning, the dominant bullpen will be able to shutdown the opponent.

This system might make you think that Joba and Rivera would get overused and tired out, but you have to remember that, with the Yankees' consistent lineup, there will be plenty of games when Joba and Rivera won't be needed. Games like Thursday's 11-2 win against Baltimore will be when the rest of the bullpen gets their work in.

To replace Joba in the rotation, the Yankees have Phil Hughes, who was supposed to be their future ace before his appearance at the big level didn't go so well. It's time to give Hughes another chance. The kid can throw hard, his breaking ball is nasty, and it would be a waste of time and potential development to keep him in the minor leagues.

If Hughes has some bad starts, the Yankees' offense has the talent to pick him up. With the improved bullpen that the Yankees would have, Hughes could even go five strong innings before being replaced.

Think about it. Even a five-inning, three-run outing with the offense and bullpen should produce a win for the club.

Now, think about this. If Joba were to surrender three runs in five innings before being pulled, you'd be a little more hesitant to assert that the Yankees would win the game.

Why? Because Joba would not be in the bullpen.

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