Ross of New Stadium Insider commented that “the Joba rules keep on getting lamer and lamer” on his. Plenty more fans chimed in with similar comments. Apparently the Yankees decision to limit the workload of their prized young pitcher isn’t going over well with the fan base.
Many of these same people criticized the Yankees when the plan was to spread out Joba’s starts over the remainder of the season. This brings to the fore an apt question: what, then, are they supposed to do? If the Yankees aren’t going to shorten Joba’s starts or spread them out, then what options do they have?
1) Pitch Joba as normal and shut him down when he reaches his prescribed workload
2) Pitch him normally without regard to prior workload
I'll admit that I had that reaction, spur of the moment, while I was at the game, and I relayed the message via Twitter. When you are in attendance and Joba is on the bump, you want to see him go more than three innings! I hadn't realized that the Yankees were planning on cutting his starts that short under these new and improved (?) Joba rules, and it was frustrating. However, it wasn't all just emotional reaction - I have good reason for my disdain of the new plan.
My major issue with Joba Rules 2009 v2.0 is that they are not helping him develop into a better starting pitcher. As Joe pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the Yankees have a history of putting Joba's development on the back burner to better suit the team's needs. This iteration of the Joba rules are no different. If Joba knows he will be pulled after a predetermined number of innings, he is likely going to crank it up in that last inning of work - something he never would do as a starter. I don't have PitchFX data to back this up, but Joba's only strikeout came on the third out of his final inning of work on Sunday. I Would love to see if "reliever Joba" made an appearance in that frame. If he's going to throw three innings per outing for the rest of the season, why not just put him in the bullpen as a middle reliever ? Either way, Joba isn't going to develop his pitching style as a starter.
I am definitely a proponent of limiting Joba's workload in order to make sure that he doesn't have arm troubles down the road. He already has a shaky injury history and the Yankees are counting on 30 or more starts from him in 2010 and beyond. Therefore, my choice would be Joba Rules 2009 v 1.0 - that is, skip some starts in order to limit his innings. While Joba apparently voiced some concern over the long layoffs following a couple of bad starts, he certainly wasn't complaining about extra rest after his All-Star Break hiatus and subsequent run of excellent starts. Starting pitchers are known to be creatures of habit, loving to pitch on their regular rest. It was understandable for a grumpy veteran like Mike Mussina to be stubborn about not pitching on regular, but Joba is still young, and needs to learn how to deal with his body when it has extra rest.
More than likely, Joba isn't going to be needed as a starting pitcher in the first round of a playoff series in 2009. However, if the Yankees advance to the League Championship Series and beyond, they will probably utilize his services as a starter. Wouldn't these long layoffs during regular season starts be perfect training for what Joba might deal with in the postseason?
These 3 inning starts are doing nothing for the Yankees, and they are doing nothing for Joba's development. In short, these Joba rules keep on getting lamer and lamer.