Look for Less Josh Johnson This Month

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst ISeptember 14, 2009

When Joba Chamberlain entered the Major Leagues in 2007 as a midseason call-up, the Yankees took a cautious approach by ensuring that he did not pitch back-to-back days in relief.

This became known as the Joba Rule.

Two years later, the Yankees continue to protect their asset by setting a limit of innings that he can pitch in a season.

Chamberlain recently took several starts off so that his arm can be rested with the idea that the Yankees will use more of him in the postseason. In a start against the White Sox a couple of weeks ago, he only lasted a few innings, and that was his workday.

The Yankees are doing this so they don't encounter what the Cubs experienced with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Wood and Prior experienced short careers as starters since their arms could not handle pitching many innings anymore.

The Marlins copied the Yankees' playbook in their use of Josh Johnson on Friday night, when he pitched for only five innings and left with the game tied 2-2. Once Johnson was gone, the Nationals ended the stalemate on a two-run home run by Mike Morse to take a 4-2 lead, and they would eventually win the game.

What we learned was that even though the Marlins are in this playoff race, they are not about to do what the Cubs did in overusing a 19-year-old Wood to help them make a run for the playoffs in 1999.

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It cost the Marlins a victory on Friday night and eventually the series against the Nationals.

It may not have made sense in the short term on that night, but it was a smart move in light of Johnson surpassing his innings mark recently. Look for Johnson to be making shorter appearances for the rest of the season.

If the Marlins fork up the money in securing Johnson to a long-term contract, they certainly would want Johnson's arm to hold up in those years, so it's a wise move to protect him.

Johnson previously had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2007 season after former Marlins manager Joe Girardi overworked Johnson to the point that he pitched a career-high 156 innings in his rookie year.

Girardi was interested in winning games and trying to get the Marlins to the playoffs, even though that was a long shot. His approach bothered Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest, and that was one of the many reasons why he was fired after one year.

While we are not fans of pampering young pitchers, Johnson is a different case. The Marlins have every right to be protective of their ace after experiencing the workload that affected him.

What if this results in another Tommy John surgery? What if he has this surgery again to point to the end of his career?

Those are things the Marlins need to look out for.

Johnson clearly did not like being pulled from the game on Friday, and deep down, Fredi Gonzalez would have liked to extend him for a couple more innings in that game.

The organization had different ideas, and it's hard to fault them.

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