Joba Chamberlain had his best start of Spring Training yesterday, tossing 4 solid innings against the Phillies and striking out 5. The NY papers have been taking the temperature of the 5th starter competition pretty much daily, but in some ways that just goes to show that things are pretty good for the Yankees this year; there isn’t really all that much stuff to write about. For reasons that I will never entirely understand though, the mainstream media, and particularly the NY papers, seem to assume that Joba will never be able to cut it as a starter.
What about Phil Hughes‘ good performance the day before you ask? What about Joba’s previous struggles?
While I could argue that Joba’s performance against the Phillies’ starters is much more meaningful than Hughes’ performance against the Astros’ backups (which is true), but that’s not the point. The point is this: spring training numbers aren’t that important. If Joba is no longer a starter, then what was the point of all the time the Yankees have spent developing him, and last season in particular?
As long as Joba shows he’s ready – which he did yesterday – the job should be his. He has no innings limit this year and it is critical that he gets in at least as many innings as he did last year. Hughes has an innings limit and is a year younger than Joba and has fewer career starts. He should go to the bullpen and pitch 2-3 innings per appearance until he’s needed to start (and perhaps throw a start or two in the minors if necessary).
Really, you have to figure the Yankees have had a plan with Joba all along and the competition is more of a storyline to keep all parties involved motivated (and one that the media has decided to run with).