Hughes to Start, Joba to Set-Up?

February 3, 2010

Is Chamberlain Heir to the Closer Throne in NY? (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Joel Sherman of the NY Post states that the New York Yankees appear to be set on how to use their two prized young pitchers.

According to Sherman it will be Phil Hughes who will be taking the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation and not Joba Chamberlain as many were expecting. Chamberlain looks headed to the bullpen to be the set-up man for Mariano Rivera and perhaps getting him ready to take over once the future Hall of Famer finally hangs up his nasty cutter.

One thing that confused me a bit was this statement from Sherman:

Because aren’t the 2010 Yanks much better if both Joba and Hughes are in the bullpen? Think about it.

I thought about it and yes, the idea of it would be magical. But you know what? Eventually the Yankees have to decide what exactly it is they are going to do with these guys. Moving them in and out of the rotation and holding them to silly “rules” or pitch counts is only going to hurt them in the long run. Figure out what they are best fit for, make your decision and stick to it.

I analyzed the move of Joba to the rotation last June and Phil Hughes bullpen vs. starter debate last July over at BDD.

If you look based on numbers, both are best fit to be relievers. As a starter Joba loses a lot of velocity and doesn’t appear to have the stamina to get far into games (of course this could be attributed to being bounced around from the rotation to the bullpen). Then Hughes seems to lack the ability to adjust his approach as he faces hitters a second and third time through the lineup.

Either way you slice it, the Yankees need to figure these two out now before its too late and two fantastic arms are not allowed to live up to their potential and essentially wasted.