It's Official: Hughes is the 5th Starter

This announcement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi made it official today – Phil Hughes, and not Joba Chamberlain, will be the Yankees fifth starter going into the season.

“I think Joba could do either job,” Girardi said, “but right now we feel Hughes is ahead as a starter.”

The guys who weren’t named fifth starter, Joba and Sergio Mitre, are not guaranteed bullpen spots according to Girardi. That supposedly includes Joba, but it is probably meant more for Mitre who could still be cut in favor of a second lefty, probably Boone Logan.

Apparently this move was more about the Yankees thinking Hughes was better prepared to start in the rotation compared to Joba and that the development of his changeup played a big role in this decision. Hughes is expected to have an innings restriction, but because he’s already pitched full seasons as a starter in the minors his restrictions will not be as strict. The beat writers seem to expect the innings limit to be in the 170-175 range.

What we haven’t heard  yet is what exactly this means for Joba. It might mean that they still see him as a future starter or it could mean that they are preparing him for a future as a closer. It is doubtful though that they would come out and say that he’s a reliever only going forward as that would be admitting that the last two years of the “Joba Rules” were for nothing.

The only way I can see that this move really makes a lot of sense is if the Yankees want to make sure both Joba and Hughes are stretched out enough to pitch 200 innings in 2011. Otherwise, if the Yankees do envision Joba as a reliever only then they might as well trade him. He could bring the Yankees much more value in a trade than he would bring to the club as a middle reliever, even a future closer.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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5 Responses to It's Official: Hughes is the 5th Starter

  1. Stephen Crociata says:

    I've been on the Joba as 5th starter side the WHOLE time and still am, but that doesn't mean I'm 100% against this move. I like Hughes as a starter, but I'm still against making Joba a reliever, at least right now. They messed with Joba all throughout last season and now will just ruin his growth and stick him in the bullpen? I'd definitely rather them trade him or put him in AAA as a starter just in case Hughes implodes. Plus the whole Joba as a closer argument is ridiculous he doesn't have the mental stability in my opinion.

  2. Mark says:

    Does Joba have the stuff to be a closer for the Yanks, yes, of course he does!!! Like Stephen says though he is not mentally mature enough to succeed Mariano. Hopefully Mitre or Logan gets the roster spot and Jobs continues his development as a starter at AAA.

  3. smurfy says:

    Joba just needs to regroup. After his simulated game, he let something slip: he was "just getting back to this game being fun." Maybe the pressure should be dialed back a bit, till he gets his feet under him. It's not time for a trade.

  4. If this Joba in the bullpen thing is a permanent thing they absolutely should trade him. A middle reliever is not worth that much and there are good closers available via free agency every year. They could probably land a very good player with Joba as the centerpiece of a trade package.

  5. Ryan says:

    Im with Mark said, just send him back to triple as a starter and let him get his mindset back to starting. The organization has been messing with this guys head and it may ruin his career. Keep him in the minors and let him develop as a starter, that is why Hughes is ahead of him. Right now, he has the mindset of a closer, go in and blow everyone away and when he starts he doesnt know how to pace himself. He has shown glimpses of what he could be with the proper development. We all know he has great stuff, just let him figure out in AAA how to piece it all together as a starter. If he does not amount to anything, which is what will happen if they keep him in the majors this year as a reliever, I would blame Cashman for screwing with this guy. AAA starter all the way this year!

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