The Joba Must Start vs. Must Set up armies

joba_250.jpgBy Jon Lane
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this re-ignited Joba the starter vs. Joba the reliever debate, one that truly never went away. As of 1:45 p.m. Chamberlain earned 346 (53 percent) of your votes compared to Phil Hughes’ 312 (47 percent). We’ll have this on the homepage a bit longer, and you can also vote to your right.

Peter Abraham, a staunch Joba the Starter supporter, has this:

The “Joba to the pen” crew is at it again. Here is all I ask of them: Prove to me that 200 innings is less than 70 and we can talk. I want my best pitchers trying to get 600 outs, not 210. It is not really complicated. You know who would make a good pinch hitter? Albert Pujols, he’s a really good hitter. But you want him up four times, not once.

Bob Klapish, however, presented the most compelling case for Joba the Reliever to date. Among the highlights:

He’s not the pitcher he was in 2008; even while blanking the Reds, something seemed amiss.

Clearly, Chamberlain isn’t the horse the Yankees projected while he was crushing the competition in the Minor Leagues. Joba might have the unbreakable mentality of a latter-day Goose Gossage, but he’s fragile.

GM Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi should consider the possibility that Chamberlain’s 80 innings in the pen might be more valuable than 150 innings in the rotation. His outings will be shorter, more explosive, and he’ll only pitch when it’s critical.

With CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Chien-Ming Wang anchoring the pitching staff, how much would it really hurt the Yankees to use the reconstructed [Phil] Hughes in the No. 5 spot?

Will anything happen between now and April 6 for the Yankees to change their mind? Only a Joba breakdown that’s catastrophic. Another strong effort or two and this debate will [momentarily] be put to rest, but one reader had a radical suggestion: Pedro Martinez.

That will never – repeat – never happen.

Is a 2010 rotation featuring Chamberlain AND Hughes a bad thing? I think not. Even in the face of such a pressurized win-now mentality, Cashman is committed to building not just a winner, but a winning program like Gene Michael did in 1995.


CC Sabathia was pounded for five runs and a walk in 12/3 innings by the Tigers on Wednesday.


Some comments in this thread reek of sarcasm. Others are downright ridiculous.

History lessons: Last year, Sabathia’s spring ERA was 4.50. Last April with the Indians, he was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in his first three starts and 1-4, 7.76 in five. His overall April numbers are 11-10, 4.47. Of course, some people will already label him a bust if he again starts slow because of his large contract.

Some free advice: Chill.


The Yankees are off today – completely. That means no bullpens, no BP in the indoor cages, no Minor League tune-ups and no meetings. There’s nothing like a free day in the Florida sun. In case you care, New York City will see a high of 40 degrees.
Some relevant stats through 12 Spring Training games (excluding the exhibitions against Team USA and Canada). Take them for what they’re worth.

Mark Teixeira – batting .529
Brett Gardner — .417 with three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored.
Melky Cabrera – .238-0-2
Cody Ransom –.346 with two RBIs and five runs scored
Jorge Posada –.353 with four RBIs
Mark Melancon — five innings pitched, allowing just one unearned run on three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Kei Igawa — five scoreless innings, two hits, no walks, four Ks. (Here’s your fifth starter.)
Phil Hughes — five scoreless hitless innings, six Ks
Joba Chamberlain – 1-0, 6.75 ERA, six hits and three Ks in four innings, 


  1. jobafanatic62

    I am so sick of hearing about this debate! He is a STARTER…people need to let it be! Phil Hughes had his chance last year and blew it. It may happen to Joba and it may not but as far as I’m concerned he has earned the #5 spot. He proved himself a starter last year. Phil Hughes and Kennedy did not. We do not need another pitcher in the bullpen. We’ve already got alot of talent there and I think it’s a waste of Joba’s arm to put him in there. Everybody is freaking out about Joba’s first 2 starts and understandably so. I was worried BUT it is only spring training and isn’t that what spring training is for? Getting ready for the regular season…fine tuning everything. Joba was awesome his 3rd time out and people just need to shutup about the possibility returning to the bullpen. He deserves to start. He’s earned it.

  2. syankees51

    I can end this debate once and for all with one scenario that anyone in the Yankee front office or true Yankee fan that wasn’t born yesterday can relate.

    Now for all of you Yankee fans please put yourself in the moment.

    It’s Sunday November 4th 2001, the Yankees are just about to win the World Series holding on to a 2-1 lead going into the eighth inning. It’s 78 degrees in a dry heat and there’s no cloud of little bugs buzzing around the pitchers mound!

    Now everyone knows what happened. Mariano who had been way overused that post season who had been coming in to pitch two innings instead of just the ninth, comes in to the game in the eighth and strikes out the side!

    Everyone knows what happened in the ninth so I don’t need to go there. But just for one second, just for one moment THINK how those events would have been like if you had a JOBA CHAMBERLAIN to pitch in the eighth inning?

    If you had someone like Chamberlain that came in and pitched that eight inning instead of overusing your closer, Mariano Rivera comes in the ninth fresh and you CAN’T sit there and tell me he doesn’t strike out Tony Womack and Craig Counsell!!! End of game, Yankees win the World Series.

    End the debate already before Joba ruins his shoulder and we’re not even talking about Joba anymore!

  3. inyomommasbed2

    Yes you are right. Pitchers that constantly get hurt in the minors or in their first 2 years should become set up men or closers if the have great stuff.

    Like the 2003 Marlins were crazy to not put Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett in the bullpen. They still get hurt every year and can only pitch 140-170 innings a year so gee willakers, how could their teams not put then in the bullpen. Stupid 2007 Red Sox. How could they throw the injury prone Josh Beckett at the Indians in game 5 when they were trailing 3-1? Why not leave him in the bullpen and let Tim Wakefield pitch so Josh might’ve been able to pitch the 8th to get the ball to Papelbon.

    Stupid St. Louis Cardinals. How could they continue to put Chris Capenter in the rotation? 2006 would’ve gone better with him setting up Izzy.

    Why not throw Phil Hughes in the bullpen? He can’t stay healthy either. Please don’t say that we don’t know what he’ll be in the bullpen because nobody knew about Joba, Papelbon or even Mariano (who sucked as a stater) until they where thrown in the bullpen.

    The only reason there’s a debate about Joba is because he’s good at both. Hey, how many times have the Yankees lost series since 2000 because of the bullpen as opposed to not having good starters to match the other team’s pitching? 2001 it was Mariano (though it was more bad luck than bad pitching). In 2004 the bullpen blew 2 games but there were 2 more games left. Our starters didn’t match up in games 6 and 7. In every other series it was the starting pitching.

    Please stop with this 6 inning game crap. In every elimination game except 2001 it was the starter that got the loss. If Joba was in the pen in any of those year he would’ve been catching splitters on the pine (except in 2003 when Pettite was out-dueled 2-0 by Josh Beckett, who should’ve been in the bullpen right??).

    People keep saying the Yankees won because of their bullpen in the 90’s. But look at the final scores in most of the playoff games they won. It was the starter that set things in motion.

    Sorry but you try it one more year with Joba. If he breaks down again maybe you think about it (like they should’ve done with Beckett right?).

  4. letsgoyankees

    Hey Julia,
    It’s C.C.’s July you should be concerned about!
    On the debate: I was a Joba in the pen guy until Melancon popped up. I love this guy. He should and will set up. I am convinced Joba will be a dominant pitcher wherever he is. I like Joba starting because we may have an answer setting up, and Joba, I think, will be a great starter. Listen, you all act like he wasn’t dominant as a starter last yr. News flash-He was! The numbers tell the story, and I also point to the oft-cited 1-0 win vs. the Sox. Joba is great, and he will be great wherever he is.

  5. letsgoyankees

    syankees51-Don’t pretend that shortening the game is not important. It’s VERY important. The 90’s Yankees teams, expecially 96′, were united by a great bullpen. In 96′ the Braves had superior starting pitching. We had a superior bullpen. We won. As an example, look at game 4. The starter was knocked out early. Our bullpen kept us in it. In 1999 and in the ’03 ALCS Mo-a reliever-won MVP of the series. I would be a Joba in the pen guy if Melancon weren’t around. If Melancon pitches bad, then we stick Joba there and let Hughes start. And remember, one of these two is replacing Mariano Rivera eventually-BIG shoes to fill. And you want me to give you name of a great starting pitcher converted to closer? Smoltz. Rant over.

  6. nyjanks

    On the note of Cashman building a team for the future. Who is going to replace Mariano in a few years when he is gone? Joba should be a thought when considering Mariano’s replacement.

  7. syankees51

    Hey letsgoyankees,

    I agree with you 100%, that’s why I used the 2001 WS as an example. I am way concerned about Joba as the author of this article wrote “he hasn’t seemed himself”. I would love to see Chamberlain do well as a starter the only problem is everyone in the game says his delievery puts a lot of strain on his shoulder. That’s not me, thats what they say. They want him a starter because he has 4 pitches but we all know it’s his fastball that has been electric. Let’s face it, he’s not going to go out there and be a location pitcher like a David Cone or a Jimmy Key.

    And your totally right about 1996, how many times did we hold our breath when Kenny Rodgers went out there and we all held our breath hoping he could just make it long enough to get the game in our pen’s hands. The way the game has changed really has shortened the game. That isn’t my take on it, its a reality.

    Sure I hope Melancon is THAT guy who can assume that role or can some day be the guy who steps into those really big shoes that Mariano wears. Forget the 4 WS Championships, how many times do we even make it to the post season if not for Mariano Rivera?

    I just will hate to see Joba fizzle and forgotten because he blows his shoulder with them trying to make him a starter when we have seen him so effective in the set-up/closer role.

    If Melancon is that guy so be it, but right now the only guy on the 40 man roster who I look at and say to myself “That guy could be our closer when Mariano retires” is Joba Chamberlain.

    I’ll put it this way, I HOPE that all the Joba/Starter people are right! I just have a bad feeling that I might be right, that’s all.

    I will root for him no matter what!
    Go Yankees! Go Chamberlain!!

    PS: Having said all that, regardless of the Joba debate, I really think this might be a special year for Yankee fans!

  8. letsgoyankees

    syankees51-I owe you a serious apology. I was referring to the wrong post! I meant to comment to calderor. I’m really sorry about that!

Leave a Reply to jobafanatic62 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s