While reading the latest post on Pete Abraham's blog where he ranks the Yankees players in order of importance it ocurred to me exactly how important Joba Chamberlain has become to the future of the Yankees.
Of the trio of Yankees rookies who were expected to be big members of the rotation last year, only Joba had a succesful year. He showed everybody that he could start as well as relieve and at least temporarily shut up those who wanted him in the bullpen. He evolved into the ace of the Yankees (yes even more so than Moose for a while) when Wang went down and seemed to keep the team afloat. The Yankees are banking on him in 2009 to be a major part of the rotation, albeit with an innings limit, and really the future of their franchise.
Much of the same can be said for Hughes. However, because of his awful, injury plagued year last year, much of the attention and pressure has been diverted to Joba. If the Yankees are careful with him and Joba stays on track, then he may become one of those rare, true aces in baseball. However, if he comes crashing down to earth then the Yankees are going to be in deep trouble. Its a lot of pressure to put on a 22 year old but without Joba you can expect quite a few more quiet Octobers in the Bronx.