Based on their recent flurry of acquisitions, it’s clear the Yankees are loading up on backup starting pitching…and rightfully so.
Joba Chamberlain, the No. 4 starter, is rapidly approaching his innings limit. While no one outside the organization is sure exactly what it is—most have it pegged between 140 and 160—what is known is that heading through Thursday, Joba has pitched 115 2/3 innings so far this year.
Averaging six innings a start, he’ll hit his cap anywhere between four and seven starts from now, which puts him in the rotation until mid-September at best. The ideal situation would be to work the rotation so that he is skipped as much as possible...but that just isn't feasible because the current No. 5, Sergio Mitre, has been less than stellar.
Quite frankly, he’s been mediocre—and there’s a reason the rotation was reshuffled around an off day so he pitched Wednesday night in Toronto instead of over the weekend against Boston.
In four starts since being recalled, Mitre has pitched exactly 18 innings and allowed 15 runs. And after lasting just three innings against the White Sox last weekend, Mitre was pulled in the fifth inning on Wednesday night. The Yankees are inexplicably 3-1 in his starts, but they can’t let him pitch against the Baltimores, Torontos and Oaklands of the world forever.
To compensate, the Yankees have traded for Jason Hirsh (currently at Triple-A) and Chad Gaudin, and signed Russ Ortiz to a minor-league deal. They also have plenty of options in both their bullpen (Phil Hughes & Alfredo Aceves) and at Triple-A Scranton (including former fifth starter Kei Igawa &
reclamation project Josh Towers), so they should be able to make it work.
Just for fun, however, here’s a look at six former Bombers the Yanks could bring back if their internal options don’t seem to be the right ones.