Last season the Yankees were very comfortable with Joba Chamberlain in the rotation as the no. 5 starter, but by the end of the season Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury pushed him to the no. 4 spot and the Yankees saw some inconsistency with their rotation.
This season they’ve prepared for that by trading for Javier Vazquez and have brought in some competition to battle Joba for that final rotation spot. Who is Joba’s competition? Manager Joe Girardi said that he expects Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre to compete for that job.
Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister could come into play if there is a run of injuries or a trade, but for right now they don’t seem to be involved in this. With a big spring, I could see Nova possibly making the roster as a reliever, but even that is a longshot. Both pitchers are good possibilities to be midseason call-ups.
Going into spring training, expect Joba to have an advantage for the fifth rotation spot as his job to lose, but I think this is a real competition not just one in name only. He feels the same way.
“I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot,” Chamberlain told the NY Post. “Nothing is guaranteed.”
There has been a lot of debate surrounding this topic and expect it to heat up as the decision gets closer. Joba and Hughes have the clear advantage and it would probably take an injury or two to knock both out of the rotation. Personally, I feel that it would be a waste of the past two seasons to just push Joba into the bullpen. He’s finally ready to be set loose and throw 200 innings they should let him do that.
Hughes could also come with some restrictions, but they are not going to be anything like what we’ve seen Joba go through. The Yankees wanted to take it slow with Joba because he had injury problems throughout his younger years and had never thrown more than 118.2 innings before 2009 and even that was back when he was a 19-year-old college student. Hughes, on the otherhand, threw nearly 150 innings at least once already. So after last season, where Joba threw 157 innings, they are more or less ready for the same workload in 2010.
Considering all of that information, while I am leaning toward Joba in the rotation that is just because he’s been prepped for this role for two seasons now, I am really not favoring one pitcher over the other. I’m of the belief that whoever is ready for the season should get the job. Whoever misses out, should go to the bullpen with a shot at rotation next year or if there is an injury.
That’s it, between team Joba and team Hughes, I am torn. Where do you stand on the issue? Who should get the final rotation spot?