JOBA Spells Relief for Yankees

John LewisSenior Writer IMay 29, 2008

With the New York Yankees sitting alone in last place behind teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, fans want to see Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation sooner rather than later.

As Hank Steinbrenner has been screaming all season that any "idiot" can see that Joba is destined to be a starter, the timing is now right for the chosen one to make his debut in the rotation for two reasons, the Yanks desperately need a reliable third starter and they need something to spark a turn around in their season.

While the Bronx Bombers are arguably the best last place team in the majors, they need some stability from the pitching staff and any playoff contending team will tell you that a strong 1-2-3 in the rotation is the answer.

Yanks fans could get excited to see a Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, Darrell Rasner and Mike Mussina rotation.   

The big question is whether Chamberlain will turn out like good relievers turned starters Adam Wainwright and Derek Lowe, or will he turn into a Matt Belisle?  The Cincinnati Reds pitcher has a combined 6.00 plus ERA over the past two seasons as a starter.

However, in recent years those players who have gone from bullpen to starter have fared pretty well.  In addition to the Cardinals' Wainwright and the Dodgers' Lowe other success stories include Braden Looper of the St. Louis Cardinals and Justin Duchscherer of the Oakland A's.

But what happens if this transition doesn't work and the Yanks continue to dwell in last place?  Will the front office have enough patience to let Chamberlain work it out? 

The good news for now is that it would be hard for him to pitch any worse than Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Kei Igawa and even if his ERA hovered around 4.5, he would still be a welcome addition to a shaky rotation.  Add that to the fact that Edwar Ramirez appears ready to be the setup man for Mariano Rivera. 

But who will step up to fill the hole Chamberlain leaves in the bullpen?

It certainly won't be LaTroy Hawkins or Ross Ohlendorf which could leave the door open for Kyle Farnsworth and Chris Britton while they await the return of Jonathan Albaladejo and Brian Bruney from injuries. 

All I know is why not give Chamberlain a chance to shine?  Many others have made the transition with immediate success.