While Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre are part of the mix to see who will leave camp as the team’s fifth starter, it’s a near-certainty that either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes will depart from the Sunshine State with that responsibility.
The smart money says it will be Chamberlain, due in large part to the fact Girardi says Hughes will be on an innings limit for 2010 whereas Joba will not; but I still believe the Yankees would be better served with Hughes in the rotation and Chamberlain pitching set-up.
But that doesn’t mean that either Chamberlain or Hughes is a slam dunk to earn the job. In his career, Chamberlain has pitched 221 2/3 IP as a starter, posting a 4.18 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in those outings. Conversely, he has pitched 60 innings in relief and posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in those appearances.
Similarly, Hughes has tossed 141 IP as a starting pitcher and has posted a 5.22 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in that capacity… his numbers as a reliever are much niftier: a 1.40 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over 51 1/3 IP.
So no matter who claims the No. 5 slot in the rotation, he’ll have to prove they can produce as a starter to avoid being returned to the bullpen before the all-star break.
In Tampa,RHP Wade Davis performed remarkably well in his introduction to life in the big leagues. He went 2-2, 3.72, in 36.1 IP with the Rays, registering nearly a strikeout per inning pitched (8.92 K / 9 IP) and an outstanding K:BB ratio (2.77).
But those stats represent an awfully small sampling size, and the question is whether he can perform that well over a full season in the AL East.
Whether he will be able to sustain that level of excellence will be dependent upon the development of his secondary pitches. While he has a major league fastball and curve, reports indicate his slider and changeup need work.
According to pitch f/x data, he used his fastball 74.2 percent of the time (the third-highest rate in the majors) - that likely won’t cut it over the long haul as major league hitters make adjustments. If he doesn’t have something more than a fastball and a curveball in his repertoire, he is likely to get hit a lot harder than in his debut campaign.