By Jon Lane
One story that received attention in the middle of the A-Rod melodrama was Chien-Ming Wang, a two-time 19-game winner recovering from a torn Lisfranc ligament now flying under the radar. Wang broke into the Majors at age 25 and made such an impact, erstwhile manager Joe Torre had to remind us – and himself – that he was still a youngster and a rookie not expected to carry a rotation. Yet he was the horse of the staff whose lone weakness remains his 1-3, 7.58 ERA record in four postseason starts. With CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett here, Wang is a No. 2 or 3 starter teams would kill for to be their ace.
Barring an injury or a near-perfect Grapefruit season, Phil Hughes and
Ian Kennedy will begin the season in Triple-A. The worst-case scenario
is the duo pitches full and healthy seasons for Scranton and move into
the Major League rotation in 2010 a year older and wiser. Not too
The Yankees’ projected starting rotation:
If this holds form, Sabathia would start the Yankees’ home opener on April 16 and the rotation for the first series April 24-26 at Fenway Park would be Wang, Pettitte and Sabathia. Remember that the Yankees want to retain an innings limit on Chamberlain, whose health will be guarded more closely than Fort Knox. As the projected fifth starter, Chamberlain will be skipped whenever the Yankees encounter an off day.
New York Daily News columnist John Harper is cautiously optimistic, but provides plenty of reasons to get excited about A.J. Burnett.
Tyler Kepner of the New York Times wrote this in January and I agree wholeheartedly:
To me — and to the Yankees, from what I can tell — there’s really no debate anymore about Joba Chamberlain’s role. Look, the Yankees already have a lights-out setup man: Brian Bruney. In 31 games from the bullpen last season, Bruney’s earned run average was 1.95, and opponents hit .153. In 30 games from the bullpen last season, Chamberlain’s E.R.A. was 2.31, and opponents hit .211. So, Bruney was actually better. Besides, if the Yankees make the playoffs, Chamberlain will probably have thrown so many innings as a starter that he’ll have to be a reliever in October, anyway. Chamberlain has the stuff to be an elite starter, and Bruney has the stuff to be an elite setup man — with the top prospect Mark Melancon poised to contribute as well. To me, it’s really pretty simple.
Joba is a future ace and you don’t put that big of a talent in an eighth-inning role. Many people don’t want to accept it, but Chamberlain is a starter today and tomorrow. Case closed.