July 11, 2009

What if Joba Chamberlain isn't a starter?

I have always been a supporter of Joba Chamberlain in the rotation, but it's hard to hold my ground when he gets bombed every night. He had a four-run lead against a diminished Angels lineup last night, and then fell apart in the fifth inning.

He has never gotten into a groove this season and has struggled heavily in his past two starts: 8 IP, 18 H, 13 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He has only pitched into the seventh inning three times this season in 17 starts.

My dad has always seen Joba as the successor of Mariano Rivera, but I have always denied it. His latest plan of handling Joba and Phil Hughes is this: ride out Joba the rest of this season, switch their roles next year, and have Joba take over as closer in 2011.

That doesn't sound like a bad idea to me if Joba continues to struggle like he has. The only thing I would be worried about is Joba's arm. He's been moving between the rotation and the bullpen throughout his entire career.

I fully understand the point that it is far better to have Joba in the rotation than the bullpen if he proves he can handle starting. However, if he cannot start at the major league level, there is no reason to try and force that role on him when he could shine as a closer.

Best-case scenario: Joba has really had poor luck with errors recently, which have cut his starts short. Also, he might just be in a funk and then turn it on for August and September.

It's kind of fun to tinker around with all of this young pitching talent the Yankees have, but the Yankees just need to be careful with their health. It will be fun to see their careers develop (hopefully in a Yankee uniform).

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