Yankees, Joba Having Issues

Lee TawilContributor ISeptember 20, 2009

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 20:  Starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Seattle Mariners on September 20, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Don’t look now, but the Yankees are falling fast. Shortly after the Yankees looked like they were far and away the favorite to win the World Series, they are showing signs of weakness. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are hot and on a roll, and they are not going to give up the AL East very easily. The Sox have won 9 out of their last 10 and are only 5 games in back of the Yankees.

One key issue that I have noticed with the Yankees is the regression of Joba Chamberlain. When Joba first came up with the Yanks as a reliever, he was nearly unhittable. He was the next big thing in the Bronx, and the team was excited about his extremely bright future.

At the time Joba came up, the Yankees had another pitcher that was supposed to have a promising future: Phil Hughes. Hughes and Chamberlain were going to be the young stud pitchers that would lead the Yankees in the coming years.

Then an important decision had to be made this season. The Yankees needed to decide which pitcher would start and which pitcher would be a reliever.

Both pitchers got to play each role, but because of Joba’s hot start, he remained the starter and Hughes went to the bullpen.

Chamberlain started out 8-2 as a starter this season, and he looked good enough for the Yankees’ fourth starter. Unfortunately for the Yankees, in his last 7 outings, Joba has not won any decisions; posting an 0-4 record in the process. The one-time great reliever is now a weak-link fourth starter at best. So now, instead of having Joba as a great reliever, they are stuck with him as an ineffective starter and a guy who is hurting the team.

Hughes, conversely, as a reliever, has been one of the best players on the ball club. He has been as reliable as can be, and the Yankees could not ask anything more from him.

So looking at it from a distance, between Joba and Hughes, the Yankees are yielding a terrible starter and a great reliever. To me, that is a big problem if the Yankees want to get the most out of their players.

If I was in charge of the Yankees, I would put Hughes back as a starter and throw Joba back to the bullpen. The logic behind this move is that in that situation, both pitchers are helping the team succeed. To have one great reliever and an awful starter, doesn’t make sense. But if you have a good starter and a good reliever, they are covered in both spots.

Without a good starter, relief doesn’t come into play. The Yankees need to first address their issues at the starting position, and then they can assess their relief.

Of course, all of this is assuming that Joba is still great coming out of the bullpen. If that is not the case, then Joba Chamberlain will cause the Yankees a ton of grief, and they will need to rethink the big plans that they had for Joba. This can hurt the Yankees this season and well into the future.

One thing I know for sure is Joba Chamberlain is too talented to not have a solidified role on this team. The Yankees should do everything in their power to make him relevant once again. If they are successful in doing that, they will produce the results that they are capable of, and a World Series title will be on the way shortly.