In the midst of trying to fall asleep the other night, my mind shifted to the 2009 Yankees, as I was trying to recall who began the season as the team’s fifth starter. I’d forgotten that unlike in 2008, Joba Chamberlain actually started 2009 in the rotation, which then made me realize that, for the first and only time in their careers, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes — called up from AAA about a month into the season — were not only both in the Yankee rotation at the same time, but actually wound up slated as such that all of their starts were back-to-back.
Specifically, this one-time event lasted just over a month, beginning with Hughes’ first start of the season on April 28, and ending with Joba’s 10th start of the year on June 1. Following Hughes’ seven starts, the team of course shifted him to the bullpen, where he became one of, if not the best set-up man in the league. Still, given my never-ending hope that Joba will someday be reinstalled in the rotation, I wanted to memorialize the fact that both of the team’s young guns did in fact occupy the rotation at the same time (doesn’t it seem like forever ago?) by taking a look at how the duo performed over their 14 combined starts during that wonderful month.
OK, so the numbers don’t quite bear out my halcyon memories of Hughes’ and Joba’s outings in May 2009, as the duo combined for a 4.50 ERA (4.84 FIP) in 72 innings across 14 outings. They did combine to strike out nearly a batter an inning (8.87 K/9), though they also walked 3.87 men per nine and gave up an intolerable 1.37 HR/9. The numbers might have even been a tad better had Joba not had to leave the May 21 game against the Orioles after 0.2 innings due to a comebacker off the leg off the bat of Adam Jones.
The Yankees ultimately wound up going 9-5 in these 14 starts — a .643 winning percentage, which is a 104-win pace — and also went from 4 games out of first the day of Hughes’ first start, April 28, to one game ahead of the Sox after June 1. Obviously a lot of other factors were at play here, but despite some individual struggles on the part of each youngster, the team clearly benefited from having both Phil and Joba in the rotation, shortlived as it was.
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