Brian Cashman says only this about Joba Chamberlain: His role to start the season hasn’t been decided yet. But regardless of what he does, his innings will be limited.
It would make the most sense for Chamberlain to start the season in the bullpen then get built up to become a starter after the All-Star break.
But it’s far too early to assume Ian Kennedy (or Phil Hughes, for that matter) can be plugged into the rotation to start the season.
Kennedy threw a grand total of 19 innings in the majors last season, Hughes 72.2. It’s a bit presumptuous to put them in the rotation yet. Neither is at a point where they can coast through spring training then flip the switch on Opening Day.
Ideally, Hughes and Kennedy are ready and Chamberlain starts off in the pen. But what Kennedy is hit hard this spring? Just start him anyway? The Yankees have only two days off from March 31-May 4. They can’t afford a No. 5 starter who doesn’t deserve the job.
For whatever reason, there is this rush to define Chamberlain’s role. Let’s wait and see how the Yankees look on March 30, not February 12. A lot can change in that time.