As Chris H posted yesterday, the Yanks have adjusted the innings limitations plan for Joba Chamberlain. Instead of giving him long stretches (6-8 days) between starts, the new plan calls for him working every 5 days, but limiting his innings in each start to the point where he won’t exceed the 165 IP target they have for him this year.
Personally, I’m a big fan of this move. There’s no issue with blowing out the bullpen, the rosters will expand in a few days and there will be plenty of pitchers around to absorb the innings that Joba won’t be working. I know the Yanks may seem like they’re feeling their way without a road map on Joba, and the truth is they are. Every pitcher is different, and they’re simply moving towards their goal by doing whatever works best. It was perfectly understandable that they thought Joba liked extra rest after his outstanding performances following the long layoff at the All Star break. But apparently it was too much of a good thing for him. The experience they’re gaining with Joba will also help inform them on how to deal with Phil Hughes next year, who will be ticketed for the rotation and dealing with similar innings restrictions next year.
I also like the idea of giving him 3-4 inning stints. It’s akin to working out of the bullpen. With a limited goal in mind, Joba can simply go out there and let it all hang out, reprising his 07 bullpen role. The mentality he had as a reliever is something that can be useful to him as a starter. You can’t air it out for 7 innings straight, but when he gets into trouble he can go into reliever mode and look for strikeouts in short stints. David Cone often discussed on Yankee broadcasts how working out of the bullpen was key to his development early on in his career, where he would take on the “warrior mentality” when he got in trouble. I’d like to see Joba remind himself of the pitcher he was in 07, and short work can help him get back there.
The main thing is giving him less work than he can handle. Young pitchers (really all pitchers) tend to get hurt when they’re worn out. As a pitcher tires, the weakened muscles handle less of the workload and the tendons and ligaments take over, leading to injury. That’s the whole idea behind pitch counts for individual games and innings limits for the season. If you’re interested in reading an excellent article explaining how pitchers get hurt, check this out this piece interviewing Dr James Andrews.
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