Joba Chamberlain doesn’t have the famed “Joba Rules” limiting his innings and pitches anymore. But if things go the way they’re looking right now, it might not matter too much.
According to the New York Post, Chamberlain is not going into spring training as the favorite to win the job as the Yankees’ fifth starter and is likely to end up in the bullpen. Chamberlain was dominant when he came into the majors in 2007 as Mariano Rivera’s setup man.
When Chamberlain moved into the back end of the Yankees rotation, he had strict rules put on his pitching workload by the organization in an attempt to avoid an arm injury. The move also left Phil Hughes, another top New York prospect, with no home in the rotation.
Hughes moved to the bullpen last season after two injury-riddled years in and out of the rotation and posted a 1.40 ERA in 44 appearances.
This spring, it looks to be Hughes’ turn as a starter again, while Chamberlain steps into the setup role. He may even possibly be groomed to replace the 40-year-old Rivera in the future. He moonlighted there last postseason and performed admirably, probably only greasing the wheels for his trip to a permanent bullpen spot.
Just because he’s expected to get the ball at the end of games as opposed to at the start, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain is willing to accept his fate.
"I’m going in with the mindset that [the fifth starter’s spot is] mine," Chamberlain told the Post.
While Chamberlain clearly doesn’t lack confidence, his chances don’t look great. Even if Hughes goes down with another injury, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves are all capable of filling in at the end of the rotation.