We've heard a lot about the "Joba Rules" ever since Joba Chamberlain was first called up to the Yankees in 2007. Going into next season, however, the "Rules" are up in the air since nobody seems to even know what the game will be for the young right-hander in 2010. Chamberlain told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo that the Yankees have yet to inform him if he will be a starter or a reliever next season.
Chamberlain doesn't seem bothered by the lack of information, saying "it helps me just to know that I've been put in a lot of situations and it's going to help me in the long run." In fact, Chamberlain also said that he hopes Andy Pettitte (a man he regards as a good friend and mentor) comes back for another season in New York, even though Pettitte's return might squeeze Chamberlain out of a rotation spot.
DiComo notes that should Pettitte re-sign with the Yankees, he would be the No. 3 starter behind C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. This leaves the final two spots in the New York rotation open, to be contested between the likes of Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves and possibly Chien-Ming Wang (as reported last week by the New York Post's Joel Sherman). This competition could end up being for just one rotation spot should the Yankees sign a free agent pitcher like John Lackey.
Chamberlain posted a 4.75 ERA in 31 starts for New York last season, but was hit hard in the second half of the season — the Nebraskan had a 7.67 ERA in August and September. He was moved to the bullpen for the Yankees' playoff run and recorded a 2.84 ERA in 10 relief appearances, plus a win in Game 4 of the World Series.
Interestingly, DiComo said that Hughes is "more of a lock to start than Chamberlain" in spite of the fact that Hughes flourished coming out of the bullpen in 2009. Hughes had a 5.45 ERA in seven starts last season, but a 1.40 ERA in 44 relief appearances as he gradually became Mariano Rivera's primary set-up man.
What do you think, Yankees fans? Who would you be more comfortable with as a starter in 2010 if you could pick only one: Chamberlain or Hughes? For what role do you think each pitcher is ideally suited?