With the Yankees facing a Wednesday doubleheader, it seems like a good time to check in on the bullpen.
It figures to get a lot of work, both because there are two games and because Joe Girardi gets miles from United for every pitching change.
As much as we'd like to see the manager treat his wife to a much deserved trip to Fiji, it's time for him to stop the shuffling and go with his best guy more often. That means Joba Chamberlain, as often as possible and not only when he's facing a righthander born under a water sign during a Republican administration.
We kid, we kid, because Girardi does deploy Chamberlain more often than that. He's got the most innings of any reliever in the bullpen and it's clear that Girardi trusts him with the job of setting the table for Mariano Rivera. He should, because no Yankee reliever raises the team's win expectancy more than Chamberlain and no pitcher has done a better job of defusing perilous situations than the man with the flat brimmed hat.
The rest of the bullpen has had its issues, which makes Joba's successful retransition back to relief work a welcome development this season. Now it is time to transition him further up the ladder and take more of the worry out of things by extending his workload beyond two or three batters a night.
Alfredo Aceves, the team's second-best reliever thus far, is on the disabled list. So is Chan Ho Park. That leaves a pretty bare cupboard for Girardi to reach into when it is time to snuff hopes of a comeback on the other side of the field.
David Robertson and Boone Logan are fungible pieces who can't be trusted in high leverage situations. Damaso Marte has his uses but he's proven over time that he's not a guy who can be counted on every night. Give Joba the ball, especially in this depleted state, and turn him into a stopper before your actual stopper.
Worried that Chamberlain will be overworked? A fair point, but the Yankees have shown time and again that they will go out and get bullpen help. No reason to think they won't do so this season and it's a lot easier to work out time management issues when you are eight or nine games clear of the closest rivals than in the thick of a pennant race.
The Yankees have gotten off to a great start. Now is the time to press the pedal down and create separation. Joba's capable of making that happen, it's just a matter of letting him loose.