Without an innings limit holding him back, isn’t Joba the favorite for the 5th spot?

While pitching coach, Dave Eiland, recently noted that he is excited for the upcoming rotation battle this spring that will feature Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, in particular, with Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves, and Chad Gaudin thrown in for good measure, he did state that the amount of innings a starter could provide over the course of a full season would play a significant part in the team’s final decision regarding the fifth and final rotation spot. “We want 200 innings in all five of our guys,” Eiland said. This is an obvious plus for Joba Chamberlain, who has no innings limit going into the season, while Phil Hughes, on the other hand, will be under the protection of a limit. Based on this alone, it seems safe to dub Chamberlain – not Hughes – the early favorite to land the fifth spot in Spring Training, right?

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

9 thoughts on “Without an innings limit holding him back, isn’t Joba the favorite for the 5th spot?

  1. This is why the whole debate about “Joba vs. Hughes” is so dumb. The Yankees have built Joba up for the past two years so that he’d be healthy and ready to pitch a full season in 2010. Why would they stray away from that plan after waiting for so long? I would really be shocked to see anyone but Joba as the fifth starter come opening day, barring any injuries of course.

    • Trev

      They would stray from this plan if there is a clearly better choice. If it’s close then Joba has the edge because of his lack of an innings limit. I’m concerned how Hughes will ever be free of innings limits himself though since it doesn’t seem like they’d put him in AAA should he miss out on the 5th starter position.

    • NDR

      Agreed. It sounds like they are talking up this rotation battle to keep Joba from getting complacent. I can’t believe that spring training innings would derail them from the Joba as starter plan. It also makes sense to prepare Gaudin et al. as starters battling for a rotation spot in case of injury to one of the established starters before the season starts.

  2. Matt

    I always forget, does Phil have an innings limit? I had this same discussion earlier in the off season and one of the editors told me there was no innings limit for Phil (based off minor league innings). Did Cash change that? And if not, what did Joba show last year that makes him the clear favorite to be the 5th starter. The wheels came off after 110 innings and he showed ZERO fire from July 29th to Oct 4th (out of the pen). I know Joba rules had something to do w/ it but Gaudin (only 2 years older) was clearly the better starter down the stretch. I THINK Joba is the better starter but he comes into camp having to show he’s improved his conditioning and effort. Unless he is in the weight room, he is in no way a lock for the 5th spot in my mind.

    • Steve S.

      They don’t like to see a pitcher under age 25 have his innings jump more than 30-40 over his career high. Here’s Phil’s Cube page:

      http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/H/Philip-Hughes.shtml

      2006-146 IP
      2007-110.1 IP
      2008-69.2 IP
      2009-115.1 IP

      Hughes could be asked to throw around 140-150 this season, which is the Joba Rules situation all over again.

    • Eiland says that he does have “some” limitations, but they won’t be as extreme as Joba’s were last season.

  3. Steve S.

    I agree wholeheartedly, Chris. The reality is that once Pitchers and Catchers report, there’s really not much going on. Even the exhibition games get dull after a week or so. So a team like the Yanks with a good PR department will generate ‘competitions’ to add story lines to an otherwise uneventful 6 weeks. This is just another example of that.

    • Reggie C.

      It kinda makes you wonder where Sherman comes up with his stuff. Joba Chamberlain would have to first pitch Wang-esque for Cashman to consider pulling Chamberlain from the starting rotation. Now that Joba doesn’t have to fear Joe G. dropping by his locker with a guesstimates as to when to take the mound, Joba’s consistency should improve. Dude’s the 5. Period.

  4. Chip

    Joba has it locked up unless there’s something seriously wrong with him in spring training. He’ll be their second best starting pitcher this year. Book it

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