The Yankees got lucky this offseason because they wrapped up the AL Eastern division quickly and had plenty of rest throughout the playoffs. That allowed them to ride just three starters, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte all the way to a World Series title.
If they are fortunate enough to repeat it certainly won’t be that easy and it is likely that one or both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are going to have to play bigger roles in 2010 as starters in the Yankees rotation. According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, that’s the role the Yankees see for them next year as they will enter 2010 without “significant” innings restrictions.
Joba finished at 157.1 innings this season after throwing about 110 the year before. So the fact that he has no significant innings restrictions likely means he’ll be up around 200 innings in 2010 as the Yankees were looking to increase his workload by 40-50 innings this year and it’ll be about the same again.
Hughes only threw about 105 innings this season between the majors and minors so the fact that he has no significant restrictions is a bit surprising. The thinking behind this could be that he geared up and appeared in 54 games this year could make them think that his arm should be quite a bit more durable. He also threw 146 innings in 2006 so his arm has already carried quite a workload in one year.
As it stands right now Hughes and Joba are the likely favorites to enter next year’s rotation as the favorites for the fourth and fifth starters (assuming Pettitte resigns). That can change if the Yankees go after a free agent such as John Lackey or Rich Harden, but they’re also likely to have competition as far as internal candidates like Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves, Ian Kennedy, and Zach McAllister who are also going to enter spring training as starter possibilities.
With so many other options who could land the fifth starter spot there is the possibility that Hughes or Joba start the season in the bullpen. It could turn out that they are just not the best men for the job.