Whoopdeedoo. In about 19 hours Joba Chamberlain will make his much-anticipated debut in the Yankee rotation. If you're picking up on my mixed feelings about this debut, please don't be confused as to their cause. I think Joba has a chance to be a true ace. A guy who can go out there and shut a team down in games 1, 4 and 7 of a playoff series. He's what the Yanks haven't had since maybe David Cone in his prime. He's the missing piece for the past 7 seasons.
The problem: He isn't ready. He can't be. The Yankees have completely botched this transition and there's no way he should be starting a game this soon, and there's no way he's ready to be stretched to 70 pitches. If I had to guess, I'd say the pressure is coming from the top down. Hank said he wants Joba to start, so they began the transition. The transition consisted of three outings of 35, 40 and 28 pitches, respectively. His previous high this season was 33. Hardly a stretch.
Yes, he followed those outings up with a bullpen session, but there was no pressure on him. Joba's arm and his body are not ready for 70 pitches. He very well may get through 70 later tonight, but at what price? He's going to be running on adrenaline. I can only hope he doesn't get hurt.
Something John Flaherty said during the game tonight was on point. He wonders how Joba is going to react to pitching, sitting, pitching, sitting and then pitching again. The breaks between innings. The inactivity. How will he handle that? He's never gone more than two innings.
Last, but not least, I smell a rat in why the decision was made to start Joba on Tuesday night, instead of Monday. Had the Yankees sent Joba to the hill for the finale against the Twins, they could've sandwiched Pettitte between Chamberlain and Mussina in the rotation. They would've had one guy who could give them length in between the two guys who aren't allowed to, or probably won't. It would've been much better for the well-being of the team, the pen especially. Instead, the Yanks are probably going to have to get a minimum of 8 innings out of the pen over the next two days. Why, you ask? Well, again, this is coming from the top. Hank wants Jobamania to take place in the Bronx. It has truly become a circus. We've got a manager who can't make big decisions on his own, so he spends all his time making nonsensical little decisions (40+ different lineups in less than 60 games), a lame-duck GM who is feeling the heat for not getting Johan Santana, and an owner who's hellbent on emerging from his father's shadow as a bigger ass than even Big Stein was in his heyday.
It's a recipe for disaster, as so many things with this team have been over the years.
Even though I know this is the wrong time for the right decision, I have to admit, I'm looking forward to it. Part of me sees it as screeching tires before the crash, I have to look. And another part of me wants to throw common sense out the door, sit back and enjoy what could be the first start of a Hall of Fame career. I'm sure by game time the optimist in me will win out. Either way, it's going to be...interesting. To say the least.