Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Great Joba Debate [David Stefanini]

After another sub par performance from Joba last night, ladies and gentlemen I present to you a question that most of us got tired of throughout the past year and a half... should Joba Chamberlain be a starter of a reliever?

Now most of us thought this question was answered when Joba tossed a gem last season at Fenway Park beating Josh Beckett 1-0. Then we again thought the question was over earlier in this season when Joba looked to be finding his stride as a starter. But now the question is presented once again and this time I think it's seriously time to consider it.

I was always for Joba being in the starting rotation. The kid came up throwing smoke and making batters look terrible at the plate. I assumed, like the New York Yankees did, he should be a starter giving the team as many innings as he can. When your in the bullpen your limited to the amount of batters you face, and Joba was clearly someone the Yankees wanted to maximize. But now I'm starting to realize how beneficial it would be for Joba to be in the bullpen. When he stepped out in the 8th inning and the Yankees were leading everyone, including the opponents, knew the game was over. He was getting his fastball up to 100 MPH and throwing his devastating slider. Now he is trying to stretch his innings by cutting back on his fastball and is not nearly as effective.

The Yankees have enough money that they can go out and buy a starting pitcher at any point. With the emergence of Phil Hughes as a solid starter the Yankees seem to be fine in the starting rotation for the next few years. What they are missing is a solid reliever not named Mariano.

Furthermore, Mariano is just a human. At some point he is not going to be around and their will be a huge hole in the back of their bullpen. If Joba is a reliever there is no worry for the Yankees when this inevitability happens. They simply move Joba to the closer position and you now have a lights out closer for the future.

The bottom line is this. Joba is not as effective of a starter as he is a reliever. Opponents had zero chance of hitting him when he is throwing at his maximum potential. As a starter hitters are getting to him early and often. His pitch count is usually very high which puts a strain on the bullpen.

Joba should be sent down to the minors for a little while to get himself back into the mindset of a set up man. That way the Yankees can play the game for 7 innings and not have to be on the edge of their seat for the final two.

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