Joel Sherman in the Post today writes about Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, trying to restart all of the Joba-t0-the-bullpen nonsense as well as the Joba versus Hughes discussion.
This shouldn’t even be a debate. Not the “should Joba be a reliever” stuff; I’ve been over that so many times, that I can’t possibly rehash it all again. Joba and Hughes should be starters until they prove they can’t be. And one mediocre year from Joba at age 23 does NOT mean he can’t be a starter.
So I know the question that follows: “Who should be the 5th starter then? There’s only room for one of them!”
If you truly believe that, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Name me the last time a team went through a season using only 5 starters. Trust me, it’s been awhile.
I imagine Joba will be a starter and Hughes will either relieve or pitch in Triple-A, but either way, I can promise you the Yankees will be able to find another 10-15 starts for someone along the way. Just ask Chien-Ming Wang.
Sherman can talk about Joba’s confidence out of the bullpen all he wants (a “strutting fire-breather” during the postseason? Are you serious?) but that’s just a bunch of media-created garbage. Chamberlain struggled the last 2 months of the season to locate his fastball and get ahead of hitters (not coincidentally, he was pitching the most innings of his life). In shorter doses out of the bullpen, after a lot of rest, he pitched better (though he was not exactly dominant, either).
Sherman and others like to refer to the 5th starter spot like it’s not important (does every 5th game not count?) but the whole 1st starter to 5th starter progression is just a label. Bottom line is you want to have the best starter out there every day you can.
What’s not that important is having all of your starters and bullpen guys set by April. It’s a long season and there will be plenty of time to get both Joba and Hughes their innings and give them the opportunity to develop into the front-line starters they have the potential to be.