It's all up to Joe Girardi. With Mariano Rivera still playing and judging by reports from Tampa, he will be the closer for the New York Yankees this season and both Hughes and Chmaberlain have done well working out of the bullpen late in the game.
"But where does that leave Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes?"
Joba finished the 2009 season with a 4.78 ERA as a starter. His rough patch came during August and September with an ERA of 8.22 in August and 7.15 in September leading to his return to the bullpen as the playoffs began. With ERA's above 6.00 against teams like Chicago (White Sox's), Seattle, Texas, and Toronto, many begin to wonder whether Joba should be a starter. While in 2007 fresh off the farm, Joba's ERA was an astounding 0.38 against teams like Boston, Los Angeles (Angels), and Detroit. After a rough 2008 season many put Joba in the same category as Aaron Small who went on to finish his 2005 season with the Yankees with a 10-0 record (8 as a reliever and 2 as a starter).
Hughes began his career in the Yankee organization as a starter and when he arrived to play in 2007 as a rookie he experienced great difficulty against teams like Kansas City and Detroit. Overall 2007 and 2008 were not spectacular years for Hughes, there was a silver lining that came in May. Against the Texas Rangers, Phil pitched a no-hitter until the sixth inning when he was removed from the game. Up until now, the closest thing that Hughes has had to his spectacular performance against Texas came this past July; Hughes ended the month with a 0.61 ERA, pitching in 11 games, striking out 10 batters, and only allowing 1 earned run.
Both pitchers have their different successful moments but the problem that remains is whether Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain will be playing in the bullpen or play as a starter. As of now the Yankees starting rotation is almost set; it contains C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Javier Vasquez, and Andy Pettite. This year will most likely be Mariano Rivera's last season and as of yet there is nobody to fill the void.
Hughes and Chamberlain have both shown excellency while working out if the bullpen, whether or not one will become a closer come next year is a big concern. With the addition of Javier Vasquez there is a slight possibility that either Hughes or Chamberlain will become starters. The X-factor in the entire Yankees organization is whether injuries will be dealt to their pitching staff; over the past two years it has affected the middle of their season and in the case of 2008, affected the outcome of their season. If all were to go well throughout the season, meaning no injuries, the pitching scenario would go as following; starting pitcher, Joba Chamberlain (middle innings), Phil Hughes (7/8 inning), and Mariano Rivera closing the game the game out.
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