The Joba Chamberlain debate rages on

One of the most baffling arguments I’ve ever seen continues to rage on.

Joba Chamberlain: Starter or 8th inning relief pitcher?

To me, the common sense answer is to keep Joba Chamberlain in the rotation. I am well aware of what Joba can do in the 8th inning, I too witnessed it. I think some Yankee fans fell too much in love with the energy Chamberlain brings with him out of that bullpen. Even non-Yankee fans fell in love with it, it’s astonishing. It was thrilling to see, no doubt about it. But that is not reason enough, I’m sorry.

Some like to talk about shortening a game by having a strong relief corps to turn to for the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning. I say the real way to shorten a ball game, is for a starter like Joba Chamberlain to pitch 7-8 dominating innings every 5th day, and get as close as possible to Mariano Rivera. You get 21-24 outs and a lead, instead of possibly being behind and not able to use Chamberlain at all.

Another argument I hear is the Papelbon comparison. I have news for you folks: The Red Sox needed a closer and did not have the great Mariano Rivera in their bullpen. They desperately needed this, so Pap stepped up and did the job. If there was no Mariano Rivera, I still wouldn’t be on board with Joba being a reliever, but I’d be more for it than I am now. Much more.

The Yankees’ problem right now, is starting pitching, not Pensman. I’ll have you know that the Yankee bullpen, in 2008, tossed 543 innings, had a WHIP of 1.27, a K/9 8.66 and an ERA of 3.78. Chamberlain tossed only 35 of those innings. Another amazing thing about the Yankee pen being that strong, is that almost 170 of those 543 innings were pitched by men with an ERA over 5, who were eventually weeded out. Now only the top, dominating choices remain: Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Dan Giese. There are also highly touted young studs like Mark Melancon waiting in the wings at AAA. The Yankee relief corps is poised to be one of the tops in baseball, if not the best. This is the Yanks’ area of least concern.

We need a front-line, power-pitching ace. CC Sabathia is not a guarantee, as we all know. Phil Hughes could be that guy, but we don’t know as of yet. Chien-Ming Wang is a great pitcher, I love him, but he does have the tendency to get rocked from time-to-time. Two of those “times” happened to be in the playoffs. We need a flame-tosser who can go pitch-for-pitchwith hurlers like Josh Beckett(Chamberlain outdueled Beckett over 7 innings in Fenway) in the post season. We need a guy who can escape bases-loaded jams with strikeouts(Joba accomplished this feat). We need a guy who’s not scared to pitch inside and brush hitters off the plate(see Kevin Youkilis). Joba is all this and more.

I’ve asked this once and I’ll ask it a thousand times: Would you have put Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson in the 8th inning?

With all due respect, if you answered yes, you should probably have your head examined. Joba Chamberlain has the best all around arsenal I’ve seen since Pedro Martinez in his prime. He has the potential to be not only an ace, but perhaps the top starting pitcher in baseball. That’s how good he is. You do not place pitchers of this caliber in the 8th inning.

Jorge Posada, and many Yankee fans, have said that they don’t believe Joba could last 200+ innings per season. Perhaps not, but you have to at least give him a chance to prove that he cannot. Besides, there’s nothing saying that he doesn’t have the ability to. Having shoulder tendinitis is not solid, concrete evidence suggesting he’s incapable of going 200+ innings. For crying out loud, 5’11” 160LB Tim Lincecum threw 227 innings over the 2008 season–a skinny kid, with one of the most violent delieveries I’ve ever seen; If he [Lincecum] can accomplish this, Joba certainly can.

Let us just be logical when it comes to this discussion, please.


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Filed under analysis, bullpen, Joba Chamberlain, Joba Chamberlain reliever, Joba starter, New York Yankees

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