It's hard for me to fathom how anyone could watch Joba Chamberlain throw seven innings of one run baseball and still think he belongs in the bullpen. Isn't this exactly what the Yankees have been missing for the past six years? Haven't we had to suffer through enough starts by the likes of Sidney Ponson, Darrel Rasner or Shawn Chacon to realize that his is what the Yankees have been missing and what fans have been clamoring for for the last half-decade?
Nonetheless his solid start has failed to sway the minds of many in the sports world who believe that one good start by Phil Hughes has effectively shown that the return of Chien-Ming Wang to the rotation should be the harbinger of Joba's return to eighth inning obscurity.
Chamberlain is a starter. He has always been a starter and he has always been great as a starter. When the Yankees drafted him they saw Roger Clemens circa 1990, not Mariano Rivera that is still pitching at an elite level today. Relievers, including great closers, are merely failed starters. They are pitchers with one or two pitches who cannot survive more than once through a batting order. Chamberlain has three plus pitches: fastball (don't listen to that BS regarding his velocity... if he's still throwing 90 when it's warm out then come talk to me), slider and curveball. His change up isn't great but it is serviceable and will get better if he keeps working at it.
It seems like the worst thing the Yanks ever did for Chamberlain was ease him into the bigs and limit his innings by giving him a spot in the bullpen back in '07. The funny thing is that this is a common tactic for teams to give young starters an easy transition period into the rotation.
Case-in-point: Adam Wainwright. No one thought the Cardinals fools when they took Wainwright, a career long starter, and put him back in the rotation after he absolutely dominated as a closer during their 2006 World Series run.
Now Wainwright is a big part of that rotation and one reason why the Cards are a surprise team sitting onto of the NL Central going into May.
There are other examples too. Both Johan Santana and Fransisco Liriano started their big league careers in the pen and another recent example is David Price. I haven't heard any rumblings about the Rays throwing Price back in the closer role even though his performance there was a big reason the Rays edged out the Sox for the pennant and their current closer situation is abysmal.
The point is Chamberlain has to FAIL as a starter before you even consider him as a reliever. And guess what, when your totals in your first 16 big league starts work out to something like say 88.1 IP with 91 Ks and a 2.85 ERA, I'd say you might want to give it a couple more go rounds before you make any idiotic decisions.