With Joba in the ALDS Bullpen, Your New York Yankee ALCS Game Four Starter Is...

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With Joba in the ALDS Bullpen, Your New York Yankee ALCS Game Four Starter Is...
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

...Chad Gaudin.

The Yankees broke from their season long stand of having Joba Chamberlain pitch strictly as a starter, and, in the last game of the season, threw him for one inning out of the bullpen.

Joba threw strikes, his velocity was in the mid-to-high 90s, and he punctuated a seven-pitch inning with a strikeout of Fernando Perez.  Perez swung and missed on a biting slider, and then whiffed on a 95 MPH high fastball.

It was like the Joba of late 2007.

He used a hard fastball and nasty slider the entire inning.  No need to change speeds with a developing curveball, or work-in-progress changeup.  I still think a starting pitcher can get through a lineup three times with just two pitches, and I wonder why Joba had not just gone with his fastball and slider combination.

Fastball/slider sure worked well for Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson.

But now it appears the New York Yankees will keep Joba on the roster for the ALDS as a reliever.  I was against that idea.  If you put Joba back into the bullpen, it decreases his ability to start in a later playoff series this year, say in the ALCS or World Series.

It also brings out the questions again next season when Joba goes back to the rotation.  What?  The Yankees didn’t have enough questions this season about Joba’s role?

I hear people say that Joba gives the Yankees another long reliever (in addition to Alfredo Aceves) for the ALDS.  But that long reliever only comes into play when a starter is getting bombed early, or the game goes into extra innings.

In both cases, I still do not trust Chamberlain's control.  One inning does not wipe away all the bad outings.  Although he was pinpoint with his pitches this past Sunday in his one-inning stint, Joba's history of control issues over multiple innings is still suspect.

If need be, I would still rather have Aceves in the game in the long relief role.  He throws strikes, gets hitters off-balance more than any other pitcher, and strikes out guys, too.

But, as I said many times, the postseason is about winning games, and if the Yankees feel Joba is best for this postseason in the bullpen, that is their call.

But how much will Joba contribute in the ALDS?

In the postseason, your starters need to go deeper into games, and throw more pitches in a game than they would during the regular season.  The only way a starter is removed early, or in the middle innings, is if he is getting hit hard, and I do not see any of the Yankees starters getting bombed early by Detroit or Minnesota.

With the starters going longer, and Phil Hughes and Mariano River able to give the Yankees three innings every game, there still might not be a need for Joba.  But, you can only imagine Girardi's mind running through a scenario where he has Pettitte going a decent six innings (with the lead), Joba in the seventh, Hughes the eighth and Mo in the ninth.

Neat and tidy.  If Joba has his control.

And the every other day routine in the first round allows the Yankee bullpen pillars, a definite strength, to pitch every day. 

If Joba does pitch in the ALDS, and goes only an inning or two at a time, then he is in the bullpen for the balance of the playoffs.  After being so careful with how Joba was used this season, why would the Yankees  further fool with him by letting him go back to the starting rotation this season?  Especially after amping him up for one or two inning spurts?

I believe the Yankees feel that Gaudin is doing enough to warrant a start in the ALCS if the Yankees get there.  He certainly has performed well as a Yankee starting pitcher this season.  In six starts for the Bombers, Gaudin is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 32 innings.

The Yankees feel that if Gaudin can give them five to six innings of two- or three-run ball, their offense is so potent that they will win that type of game.  And they know the trio of Joba, Hughes and Mo are waiting in the wings.

So, if Joba goes an inning at a time in the ALDS, he is very much part of the bullpen for the remainder of the playoffs, and it will limit his innings for this season, something the Yankees have worked hard to do.

Many Yankee fans wondered why the Yankees did not go out at the trade deadline and get themselves another starting pitcher—Jarrod Washburn, Jon Garland, etc.

But they did.  They traded with the San Diego Padres for Gaudin, a 26-year-old, seven-year major league veteran starting pitcher.  Kevin Towers's final trade as Padres GM was to help his good buddy, Brian Cashman.

And, if the Yankees get through the first round, Chad Gaudin is going to be your Game Four starter in the ALCS.

Joba will go back to the top of the rotation next season, but all the questions about a future role in the bullpen will be resurrected if he (and the Yankees) have a successful postseason.  It might just hinge on that Cashman deadline deal.

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