"Joba Rules" have become an oxymoron. In a story found on ESPN.com today, it was explained that Chamberlain will go back to his regular starts but be pulled earlier (as if he was pitching far into each game as it was). With his 2009 penchant for running up early pitch counts, what are they going to do now, pull him in the fourth inning after 80 pitches?
First, they were going to send him to the bullpen. Then they decided to keep him as a starter but have him miss some starts to save his innings. Now they have flipped it again in a never-ending game of, "how do we limit his innings without the temptation of exploiting his talent."
The trouble is that Joba hasn't been that great. Sure, there are flashes of what we all expect him to be. But he walks so many darn batters, he is always pitching in trouble and those become what Mike Maddux of the Rangers calls, "stress pitches." According to Maddux, stress pitches are harder on the arm than when pitching with nobody on base. If Joba could focus more on throwing strikes, then he would have less stress pitches and there would be much less concern for his arm.
The stories all seem to focus on how many innings the Yankees would like to limit Joba Chamberlain to this year. It is unknown whether there is an either/or scenario where a limit exists for both innings and pitches. If there is not a focus on pitches thrown, there should be because Chamberlain has thrown a ton of pitches in his weekly five or six innings of work. And again, with his penchant for walking batters and pitching deep into counts, those pitches thrown should be a concern more than the innings are. Things would be a lot easier for the Yankees if Mike Maddux was their pitching coach instead of him doing his great job in Texas for the Rangers. He seems to have a better grasp on how to handle these things.
And so it goes. Another week, a new set of Joba Rules. This Fan would wish that Joba ruled when he pitched a whole lot more often than he has. What he has been doing won't help much in the playoffs.