The baseball season has been going on for two months now, so it was only a matter of time before the “Should Joba Chamberlain start or relieve?” debate reared its ugly head. With six pitchers vying for five rotation spots — and an injury to one of them being the only easy solution — the 2009 version is officially in full swing. Last week, Mike Francesa threw out the ceremonial first rant, seen here, when he totally lost his shit on a caller who dared suggest (albeit with dubious evidence) that Joba is better off starting. (As you know, the first rule of Mike Francesa’s show is DO NOT DISAGREE WITH MIKE FRANCESA.) And last night, Joba showed why Francesa was wrong.
Chamberlain threw eight innings for the first time in his career, allowing two runs on four hits in a 5–2 Yankees victory. Chamberlain is now 3–1; only two qualified pitchers in New York — Johan Santana and CC Sabathia — have a better ERA than his 3.71. Last night was particularly impressive for a few reasons: He finally kept his pitch count relatively low; he made a spectacular diving catch in the fifth inning on a bunt by Kelly Shoppach that you’ll see replayed a thousand times over the next month; and despite swallowing one on the way to the mound in the eighth, he didn’t let his old friends, Cleveland’s notorious midges, get the better of him this time.
At the end of the above clip, Francesa asks “Where is the dominant start?” The question was rhetorical, of course — he’d long ago hung up on poor Alex from Bedminster — but last night Joba provided him with an answer anyway.