How Many Times Can Someone Argue Joba Chamberlain Should Be a Reliever?

At some point the whole argument about whether or not Joba Chamberlain should be a starting pitcher has to come to an end, right? I really hope so. We can't keep discussing this every season of Chamberlain's career, a "Less Filling vs. Tastes Great" for a new generation, or I'm fairly certain that my head will explode.

I can't even believe this is still being discussed, but then I read Wallace Matthews in Newsday this morning. He's arguing that the problem with the Yankees this season was their bullpen's failure to close games out in the 7th and 8th innings. He points to the Phillies as the example to follow.

The Yankees used to dominate opponents by shortening the game. If you didn't get 'em before Mariano and Co. came in, you weren't getting 'em at all. This year, the Phillies dominated October the same way. Get 'em before Brad "Coffin" Lidge and his setup men come in, or forget 'em.

Cole Hamels scoffs at that notion, and so do I. In October, the Phillies won because they got quality starts more often than not. If you look back at the last few postseason failures by the Yankees, the lack of such starting pitching cost them much more than faulty relief. The problem wasn't the 7th and 8th inning, it was the fact that so many games were in doubt entering the 7th and 8th inning because of the rotation and because of a dismal offensive season.

That's not to discount Philly's pen, which was quite good. Thing is, so was the Yankee pen. The rotation was lacking, at least it was before and after Chamberlain was a member of it. He should be a starter until his performance or his body tells you that he isn't up to the task of being a starter.

Matthews would have you believe that Ryan Madson is more valuable to the Phillies than Cole Hamels, which is an interesting notion that should probably bar Matthews from ever holding higher office. Would you make that trade? Of course not. Madson's actually a good name to bring into this discussion. He was supposed to be a starter, but failed miserably at that role. Now he's a reliever and a good one. Valuable as that is, it isn't as valuable as a starting pitcher with Chamberlain's gifts.

How Many Times Can Someone Argue Joba Chamberlain Should Be a Reliever? originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 04 Nov 2008 10:50:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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