One of the main arguments the B-Jobbers have for putting Joba in the pen is the superiority of the Red Sox bullpen this year. They want Joba sent to the bullpen now in an attempt to match the Sox in their area of strength. But chances are, this will all be irrelevant come playoff time.
Think about what our rotation will be for the playoffs.
If Wang returns to form, he likely gets a start as well, depending on off days and travel considerations. That puts both Joba AND Hughes in the pen come playoff time. Both will likely be up against their innings restrictions by that time anyway, so starting them is unlikely unless someone is hurt. We saw how good Hughes was out of the bullpen in 07, and we all know about Joba’s track record. That could transform a shaky Yankee pen to an outstanding one overnight.
The big edge the Red Sox have had so far over the Yanks this year is in the bullpen, with their bullpen ERA at #1 in the AL and the Yanks sitting 2nd from the bottom. But with Hughes and Joba in the bullpen and the 4 starters who all figure to give you length, it just doesn’t figure to matter much come playoff time. If the Yankee starters are giving you quality and length as they should, the inferior bullpen is largely irrelevant. If not, Hughes, Joba and Bruney should be able to bridge the gap. Also, the Sox bullpen edge has its limitations. If they are using their outstanding bullpen depth early, that means they’re most likely already in big trouble that game. So its the kind of edge you’d prefer not to use, you rather get quality and length from the starters. Further, the Yankee bullpen should be better by October not even counting Hughes and Joba. Bruney should be healthy and we should have some more help coming from AAA.
The Red Sox starting pitchers have been bad this year, pitching to an ERA that puts them near the bottom of the AL. The Yanks are better, but not as much as you’d like at #9. I’d give them a break on the Wang starts, though. That was clearly an aberration related to a freak injury where the rehab was botched as well. If you replaced those inning with league average production the Yanks would be near the top in Starter’s ERA. But I’m sure everyone would like to do some variation on that with their team too, and to quote the old line ‘you are what your record is’. But it is fair to extrapolate in terms of how this team might fare against the competition come playoff time. With a Wang that performs to the back of his baseball card, the Yanks have as good (if not better) a starting rotation as anyone in Baseball.
I think the Yanks will be in excellent shape come playoff time as is. But I won’t be surprised if they still make a deal or two anyway to shore up the bullpen.
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