Wednesday, May 28, 2008


ONE JOBA CHAMBERLAIN … there’s only one Joba Chamberlain. How New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi must wish there were two.

There’s no debate about whether Joba is the Yanks’ best young pitcher; the winless Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy have seen to that.

But opinion is still divided on whether his greatest value to the team is as a starting pitcher or bullpen reliever.

Last night’s infuriating 10-9, 11th inning defeat in Baltimore provided further ammunition for both camps.

The Yankees handed Kennedy an early 4-0 lead – and he promptly handed it straight back before leaving the game with a strained muscle.

His failure to build on a decent start against the Orioles last week should mean that’s we’ve seen the last of him for a little while.

Compare his ERA of 7.41 with Darrell Rasner’s 1.80, plus the fact that Rasner has managed to win three games, and it’s pretty obvious who should make way for Joba the starter.

Kennedy will no doubt get another chance at a future date, but the Yanks were banking on him to become their regular No. 4 or No. 5 starter and, right now, that looks very unlikely.

Bronx Bombers desperately need a pitching ace

That the Yanks need a high octane, high profile pitcher is beyond doubt. They don’t have a true No. 1. But we also saw last night how much they’re going to miss Joba at the business end of games.

After Mariano Rivera had pitched two scoreless innings (should he really be pitching when the score is tied?) and the Yanks had taken the lead for the third time at 9-8, Joba would have been just the man to seal the deal.

Instead, he was sitting in the dugout waiting for another long relief session today, possibly leading to a first start against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium next Tuesday.

LaTroy Hawkins was the man called upon to close the game. Hawkins is certainly no Rivera; in fact, he’s no Luis Vizcaíno either. Once again, he wasn’t up to the job.

After enduring a 67-minute rain delay, defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for those Yankee fans that had stayed up past midnight.

The team has fallen back two games under .500 and even if they avoid the sweep at Camden Yards tonight, they’ll still be rooted to the bottom of the American League East table.

I’m confident Joba Chamberlain will be a success, wherever and whenever he pitches. But the fact remains that, from now on, we’re only going to see him once every five days.

Unless Girardi can clone him, or bring up another whizz-kid from the minors, the Yankees’ bullpen looks wafer-thin without Joba.

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