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Could Joba Chamberlain start again for the New York Yankees?


Well he’s certainly fond of the idea to be in a rotation again, whether it’s with the New York Yankees or not.

It’s true folks, Joba Chamberlain has the itch to become a starting pitcher again and really, maybe that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Yankees. While Chamberlain really has had quite the up and down career with some injuries thrown in there, the future of this rotation still remains uncertain. We can try to speculate who won’t and will be there in the coming seasons, but perhaps putting someone like Chamberlain in there, who has had prior starting experience before, could be for the better.

Joba Chamberlain has been a jack of all trade throughout his career. (Images: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

For Chamberlain, unfortunately his cons weight out his pros. At one time, he was thought to be the successor to Mariano Rivera, and now Joba can only wonder if he’s even going to be with the team come next year. He’s had Tommy John surgery, lost his starting spot in 2010 to Phil Hughes and just never really panned out in the way that the Yankees really wanted. Still though, he hasn’t been awful when healthy.

A career-long Yankee, Chamberlain has been pitching professionally since 2007 and hasn’t had to look back. That said, looking at the future, Chamberlain’s tenure with the Yankees may be over come 2014. With that, how should the Yankees use him come the start of 2013? If Hughes is still hurt by the start of the season with his bulging disk, then there’s one spot open. If Ivan Nova can’t impress, then that leaves two, possibly one for David Phelps and maybe Adam Warren, but obviously Chamberlain would make a stab at getting in the rotation.

Looking at the years in which Chamberlain did start (2008 and 2009), 2008 stands out with the low 2.60 ERA, but that only came in 12 starts. In 2009, he started in 31 games and had an inflated ERA of 4.75 which honestly, taking one bad season to make a decision on him starting isn’t exactly the smartest thing, but hey, I’m not the Yankees so they know him better than I do.

Is Joba suited better for relief? Perhaps with the Yankees he is, but I could see him in the rotation for another team. He’s still in his prime, has starting potential with relief upside and has postseason experience. He’s not the next CC Sabathia, but Chamberlain can hold his own and I feel how the Yankees handled him wasn’t for the best. That said, Chamberlain has proven himself as a late inning relief man, possibly a set-up man on another team or even a closer. He has versatility, but it’s clouded by injuries and some struggles, neither of which are a good combination.

There’s the question of how do the Yankees construct the rotation once the likes of Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda aren’t there anymore. Clearly Hughes is a favorite, but even his future as a Yankee is uncertain at this point, so then that leaves Nova, Phelps, Warren, Michael Pineda and the eventual Manny Banuelos. Aside from maybe Nova, Pineda and possibly Phelps, none of the pitchers listed have a guaranteed spot, so why not hold on to Chamberlain until they’re ready? Even if he implodes, then you know it’s time to switch him out for the younger guys. I don’t see Chamberlain being a starter for the Yankees anymore, but it’s certainly something that should still be on the mind of Joe Girardi.