Sports Outside the Beltway

In defense of the Joba Laws

by Pete Abraham -

There are a pack of folks who want the “Joba Rules” suspended and for Joba Chamberlain to become the Native American Jeff Nelson and pitch whenever needed.

Two words for you: Cole Hamels. Philadelphia’s prized rookie is headed to the MRI tube tomorrow because of a sore elbow. The Phillies are praying it’s not a torn ligament.

The Phillies deserve no breaks, however. Hamels threw 35 innings in 2005 because of a hand and back injuries. Yet he was allowed to throw 181.1 innings in 2006 and 167.1 this season. Oh, by the way, he’s 23.

Two more words for you: Kerry Wood. Do I need to go on? Research has shown that young pitchers who add more than 30 or 40 innings from one season to the next tend to suffer more arm injuries.

Chamberlain had arm trouble at Nebraska in 2006 that limited him to 89.1 innings. He then signed late and didn’t pitch pro ball until going to the winter league in Hawaii in October, four months after he had last pitched in college. He picked up 37 innings there.

So far this season he has thrown 95.1 innings. The Yankees want to cap him around 130 before the playoffs. This is also the first time in his life that he has been worked as a reliever, so they are making sure he gets enough rest between appearances.

I understand that as fans you want the Yankees to win as many games as they can. But do you want them to have a 22-year-old starter who can win 15 games next season? Because that’s what Chamberlain could well be.

Or you can be waiting for news of his MRI.

Look at Chamberlain this way: any innings he pitches are a bonus. This is a kid who was on the disabled list for Class A Tampa when the season started with a sore hamstring. It’s a great story that he’s blowing away big-league hitters. But it’ll be a better story if he’s starting the third game of the season next April, not chilling in the Legends Field trainers room with Carl Pavano.

He’s dead on. That Joba is even helping the Yanks this year is a bonus and therefore should not be abused.

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