As for Chamberlain, the Yankees have not yet told him whether he should prepare as a starting pitcher or a reliever . . . The only hints he has received have come from general manager Brian Cashman, who said last week that he envisioned both Chamberlain and Phil Hughes as starters — but starters who are capable of relieving. “So he didn’t really answer the question,” Chamberlain cracked.
The uncertainty is understandable inasmuch as whether Chamberlain, or to that extent Phil Hughes, needs to start is going to depend on whether Andy Pettite comes back, whether the Yankees sign John Lackey. Or Randy Wolf or Segio Mitre or some other off-brand starter for that matter. If I had to guess I’d say that there will be at most a fifth starter’s slot to fill between Hughes and Chamberlain.
His late season struggles aside, I’d be inclined to tap Chamberlain for that role. He looked like he was putting it together around the All-Star break. Then, for reasons that can only be chalked up to the Joba Rules, the Yankees started limiting his innings, messing with his rest and generally treating him like some special case as a starter in August and September. He knew going in to every game that he was going to be yanked before the fifth inning, which had to mess with his preparation and approach. I can’t help but think that the problems he had in the second half were due in large part to being jerked around.
And really, he’s been jerked around for three years. Give the guy a job. Leave him alone. Allow him to pitch without putting him under the microscope and I have this feeling the Yankees will be pleasantly surprised with what they get.