Thursday, March 18, 2010

Phil Hughes Vs. Joba Chamberlain: Round 3

The Yankees Opening Day lineup appears to be set. The biggest question left to answer before ST ends is who will be the Yankees 5th starter. The top 2 contenders are Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Alfredo Aceves is the dark horse. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre are the also-rans. The smart money is on either Hughes or Chamberlain. I've been breaking down the matchup after each of their first 2 ST outings. On my unoffical scorecard, I've got Hughes up 2-0 after the 1st 2 rounds. If you're interested in checking out the 2 round recaps, click here and here. Hughes' 3rd outing of the spring was on Tuesday. Joba's 3rd was yesterday. Before breaking it down, I must say that I didn't see either of their outings. ST and TV haven't been very kind to me. I'm going off of the box score, which I don't like to do, and other people's accounts of the games. Having said that let's take a look at round 3.

By all accounts, both Hughes and Joba had their best outings of the spring the 3rd time out. For Joba, that wasn't hard to do. He entered the game having been shelled twice. His first 2 starts were far from pretty. His 3rd go 'round sounded much better. JC allowed 1 earned run over 3 official innings (4 if you count the extra inning he threw). This was a huge step in the right direction considering he allowed 11 earned runs in his first 2 starts. When asked for his thoughts on Joba's outing, Joe Girardi said, "Outstanding. Worked quickly. Attacked the zone. He’s got to go out and throw more, and that’s what you want to see. Quality.” Joe later added, "I thought he worked quicker today. I thought his mechanics were sound today. And he attacked. He was ahead in the count most of the day. He had fastball command today." Or as Chad Jennings @ the Lohud Yankees Blog put it, he had "better pace, better mechanics, better command." Joba's outing was a step in the right direction.

Calling Hughes' 3rd outing his best is a little harder to call than Joba's but it sounds like to all observers it was his best outing. Phil pitched 4 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits and a walk. Chad Jennings noted in his blog, "What’s more important — and impressive — is that Hughes got those results while still working on his changeup. He threw a first-pitch changeup for probably the first time in his life, and he threw a 2-1 changeup with runners on base, inducing a groundball." Talk about an astute observation. Hughes added, "I threw some in counts where normally I would never, ever do it. And I got good results with it.” It is pretty impressive that PH did so well when working on his secondary pitches. If he can finely tune them, who knows what he;ll be capable of? Sky's the limit in my book.

I've maintained all along that I'm a Phil Hughes guy. If there's one open spot in the rotation and it's between Phil and Joba, put me on Team Hughes. I'd love to see both start, but if there can be only one, I hope it's Hughes. I think he better pitches and has more of a starter's mentality. Joba has good stuff also, but I think his mindset is more like that of a back-of-the-bullpen RP. But he definitely has the tools to do well as a starter. I just don't think he's there yet.

I'm going to call round 3 a draw but I could probably give the slight edge to Joba based on the improvement. But I could also give the slight edge to Hughes because he's been far-and-away the better of the two so far this spring. If anyone wants to share some insight that could possibly tip the scales in either direction, please do. As of now, my unofficial scorecard has Hughes up 2-0 with a split in the 3rd.

It was also mentioned over at the Lohud Yankees Blog that Girardi said each of guys up for the 5th spot (Hughes, Joba, Aceves, Mitre and Gaudin) will get at least at least one more outing before the Yankees start eliminating people from the competition. My money says that it'll be a 3-horse race after they all pitch, with Mitre and Gaudin getting dropped. I still think is's Phil's spot to lose. Joba has some work to do if he wants it. If Alfredo Aceves keeps pitching the way he has been, he could take the spot, and it would be deserved.

There's just less than 3 weeks until Opening Day which isn't a lot of time considering they each pitch every 5 days. They don't have much time to waste. Meanwhile, don't waste your time and enjoy of the best online poker room playing with Littlewoods Poker.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,