Joba Chamberlain to remain in bullpen if Yanks reach ALCS

The New York Post reports that should the Yankees advance to the ALCS, they are leaning toward using Chad Gaudin rather than Job Chamberlain to be their Game 4 starter. Chamberlain would then remain in the bullpen.

The Yankees would not finalize plans unless they beat Minnesota. But in informal planning sessions there is a growing consensus to keep Chamberlain in the pen throughout the playoffs.

That reflects how precious each win is in the postseason, and that Chamberlain could be used in nearly every winnable game as part of a late-game lockdown trio with Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera. But it also has to do with the Yankees’ internal belief that Gaudin outperformed Chamberlain as a starter down the stretch.

The Yankees were 6-0 in Gaudin’s starts and he had a 3.19 ERA. Chamberlain had a 7.75 ERA in his final 10 starts with a .324 batting average against. Chamberlain’s lone strong start in that period was a six-inning, three-run effort against Boston. So, if the Yankees and Red Sox met in the ALCS, the Yankees might reconsider. But even under that scenario the sentiment is to start Gaudin.

This makes sense. Joba could essentially make an impact in every close game the Yankees play in, rather than just six or seven innings of one start. And with the Bombers’ record in Gaudin’s starts being 6-0, they have the opportunity to keep Joba in the pen and not sacrifice their starting pitching.

The Yankees are always dangerous because of their offense, but this marks a different season because they now have the pitching to make a World Series run.

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2009 MLB Preview: #4 Chicago Cubs

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Offseason Movement: The Cubs were seemingly hosed by the Indians in a trade that sent ultra-utility player Mark DeRosa to Cleveland in exchange for minor league pitching prospects Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub, none of which were viewed as top 10 prospects in the Tribe’s organization. But maybe one of those youngsters will emerge as a quality arm down the road and DeRosa’s contract does expire at the end of the season so at least the Cubs got something for him. Chicago also added volatile outfielder Milton Bradley, reliever Kevin Gregg and pitcher Aaron Heilman, who will move to the bullpen after losing out to Sean Marshall this spring for the Cubs’ fifth spot in the rotation.

Top Prospect: Josh Vitters, 3B
This club is loaded with quality prospects, including reliever Jeff Samardzija, shortstop Ryan Flaherty and outfielder Tyler Colvin. But Vitters appears to be the best of group, with his excellent plate approach, outstanding hand-eye coordination and natural swing. Thus far in Single-A, Vitters is hitting .357 and slugging .529 in 70 at bats. At only 19, he still has a ways to go before he’ll make his big league debut, but Vitters appears to have quite a future ahead of him.

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