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Buster Olney has a throw-away graph at the end of his latest blog which I completely missed. Thankfully, the guys at River Ave Blues were more diligent in their scouring of the Internets, so here's the pertinent clip:
Heard this: If all goes well in spring training for the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain is likely to start next season in the Yankees' bullpen, as part of the team's effort to limit his innings. Chamberlain will go to spring training and, at the outset, prepare to pitch out of the rotation, along with five other rotation candidates -- Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina and Ian Kennedy. Assuming that none of the other five has a physical or performance breakdown, Chamberlain would then open 2008 in the bullpen, as a set-up man, for at least the start of the season -- under the Joba Rules.

The Yankees want to restrict the number of innings Chamberlain throws, and working him out of the bullpen for at least a couple of months will allow them to do that. Chamberlain may return to the rotation sometime in the middle of the season, depending on the Yankees' needs.
I've talked about this before, but the workload for Joba and Phil Hughes last year is going to be a problem in some way, shape or form in 2008. Joba and Hughes both threw 116 innings 2007. Usually, the Yanks like to increase workload by about 20 innings per season. Hughes was limited in 2007 by injuries, he actually threw 146 innings in 2006, so I don't think the Yanks would have a problem pushing him up to 175-180 innings tops. I'll be shocked if Joba throws more than 150.

What Olney is writing makes some sense, I think we could see both Joba and Phil working out of the pen at different times this year to ease their innings total. I'm just not sure I like the idea of starting Joba out in the pen. It's a tough transition to make, from preparing to start, to working in the pen, back to starting. Ideally, the Yanks would follow the same path with Joba in 2008 as they did in 2007. Joba would start the season in the rotation, then move to the pen when he reached, say 120 innings. If they skipped Joba when they had a chance and he averaged about 6 innings per start, this would probably be the middle of July. Then he could use his other 30 innings out of the pen. This would be ideal from a development/babying standpoint, but it would also raise some serious problems if someone else in the rotation went down and/or Joba turned out to be an absolutely dominating starter. How do you take him out of the rotation at that point?

It's a conundrum.
by Brian on Dec 21 2007
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