Joba Has Company For 5th Starter Competition

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?

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7 Responses to Joba Has Company For 5th Starter Competition

  1. Keep in mind when I said that injuries could change the rotation, I meant an injury to Mariano as well. If he gets hurt, I'd guess that either Joba or Hughes are going to take over that closer role.

  2. Mark says:

    I like your argument, it seems a waste of two years prep to drop Joba from the rotation. With four set starters surely this is the best opportunity to give him a chance over a full season and if it doesnt work how about offering him the closer job? If he doesnt work out as a starter his stuff is brilliantly suited for succeeding Mo and he would know what his job is for his career, give him and the Yankees some stability and clarity instead of uncertainty. Personally I think long term he could be brilliant as a starter, but 2010 should be used to tell us.

  3. Dan LaTorraca says:

    Sometimes I wonder if the Yankees should just use both Hughes and Joba in the pen and let Gaudin be the 5th starter. I mean, eventually someone will have to replace Mariano, and we can’t wait forever for Melancon to develop. If he never pans out, Joba is the next best choice to replace Mo as the closer.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Rob, a minor point, but why do you think that Nova has any chance at all to do anything? I have never understood the hype about him. He has been terrible except for half a season in AA and even then his peripherals were not good. For gosh sakes, the San Diego Padres didn’t want him for nothing.

    For me, this is an example of an over-hyped Yankee prospect.

  5. To me, Joba has shown the best effectiveness as a starter between him and Hughes, and has far more potential than the other (non-Hughes) replacements. Unlike Hughes, he should also have no innings cap. Part of what complicates the scenario is that Joba has also shown great effectiveness and an attitude out of the pen. I too am leaning toward Joba in the rotation, though my gut tells me that the Yankees' brass wants Hughes there soon. I could be wrong. Having the "loser" of the competition setting up Mariano is an outstanding fall-back position, however.

  6. She-Fan says:

    I don’t have enough faith in Gaudin to make him the 5th starter. He showed flashes of effectiveness, but over the long term? I doubt he’ll work out.

  7. Jeffrey: Rob, a minor point, but why do you think that Nova has any chance at all to do anything? I have never understood the hype about him. He has been terrible except for half a season in AA and even then his peripherals were not good. For gosh sakes, the San Diego Padres didn’t want him for nothing.For me, this is an example of an over-hyped Yankee prospect.

    It’s not that the Padres didn’t like Nova, they just thought he was too young. The fact that they picked him at all means more than the fact they let him go back.

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Nova pitch, but from what I’ve read about him he has 3 pitches that are major league ready right now. That’s pretty good. No, his numbers aren’t the best, but when you already know how to throw a good fastball, curveball, and change what’s left is learning how to pitch, not just throw, but pitch. Which means to me that his old numbers aren’t as important and last year he had a great season with Trenton. In Scranton he struggled a bit, but that could just be adjustmenting. I’d say 2010 is a huge season for this guy and if he comes through then he has a legit shot at playing in the big leagues. Certainly doesn’t have Phil Hughes potential, but a solid bullpen arm can be huge.