Saturday, February 9, 2008

2008 Plans: The Superstarter

As you all know, the Yankees will have to find a way to limit Joba's innings this year, so as not to hurt his arm. They also will need to limit Phil Hughes' innings, but that is not discussed as often. Phil and Joba each threw 111.1 innings last year. The rule for innings caps is generally no greater than a thirty inning increase, putting both of their caps at about 141 innings. Hughes threw 146 innings in 2006, so his cap will likely be higher, probably between 150 and 160 innings, so we'll say 155 for now. Many have been saying that Joba will start the year in the bullpen, but nobody has really discussed Hughes.
Here is my proposal: We combine Hughes and Joba into a superstarter. No not literally, or surgically, but by giving them the same rotation spot. One of them starts, and throws five innings, with the other one coming in to pitch the final four innings. The next start they switch who gets five and who gets four. This means an average of 4.5 IP per start. Over 30 starts, that is 135 IP. This is just under Joba's cap, but well under Hughes' cap. The Yankees could either keep it like this, allowing Hughes to throw a lot of playoff innings, or they could move Joba to the bullpen for a month or so, and let Hughes be his own man during that time. That would probably mean an extra 7 or 8 innings for Hughes, leaving him with 143 IP (which still leaves playoff room). It would also mean a decrease of about 10 IP for Joba, which would also leave a lot of playoff room.
Besides saving our young starters' arms, this saves the bullpen, too. The 'pen only has to be used 4 out of every five days. Fresher relievers=better relievers. This means that guys like Alan Horne, Steven White, and even Kei Igawa or Jeff Marquez, who may be used to help the bullpen mid-season, may not be necessary, allowing them to develop in the minors, or be used as spot starters to give a young guy a rest (Phil, Joba, IPK) or to take Mike Mussina's spot if he sucks. Regardless of what Girardi, Cashman and Nardi Contreras decide, they will have to get creative in monitering Joba and Hughes' innings.

Superstarter '08