Sunday, July 11, 2010

Joba's struggles will put Hughes back in pen

Joba Chamberlain's struggles virtually guarantee that Phil Hughes will reclaim his job as Mariano Rivera's set-up man sometime this season.

The New York Yankees will spin any such move as an effort to protect the valuable right arm of young Mr. Hughes, the way they tried to protect Joba last year, and that will be partially true. But Joba's inconsistency will leave them no other choice than to bring in Hughes, who is much more reliable out of the pen, in key 8th inning spots.

The shift will likely begin when Hughes is having a couple of starts skipped in August and September. The Yankees will bring him out of the bullpen and they will say it's just to keep him sharp. But if a game is tight in the 8th inning and both Hughes and Chamberlain are sitting out there, Hughes will get that call. And if he does as well as last year, the Yankees will keep him there for the playoffs.

As of now, Joe Girardi says he still believes Joba can do the job. “The stuff is there,” he said. “He’s a human being that’s giving everything he’s got out there. I don’t get frustrated and I still believe in him."

But that faith will only go so far. With the division on the line, there's no way Girardi can bring Chamberlain into a tight game if he’s still this unpredictable in September. It wouldn’t be fair to his teammates, the way it wasn’t fair to Javier Vazquez last night that his phenomenal performance was wasted. For now, Joba will keep getting the 8th inning call, but if he doesn’t get himself right, Hughes will step into the role that he is very comfortable with.

No comments:

Post a Comment