We come to the end of the rotations, and being that both teams have so many candidates I figured I would take the extra time to include the extra pitchers for each team.
The Yankees have the most candidates to fill out the final spot in their rotation. The group includes top candidates Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Al Aceves. Normally Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin would be included in this list as well, but the reality is they never really had a chance unless Joba and Hughes were hurt or completely inept. The Yankees simply have too much invested in Joba and Hughes to not have one of them in the rotation.
If the Yankees were to simply go by the performance of the top three candidates, this race would go to Hughes or possibly Aceves based on his early spring dominance. It seems though, that Chamberlain will end up with the job after his recent revival. Plus the Yankees didn't go through all of the trouble of expanding his innings total to the point where he could pitch an entire season uninhibited just to throw him back in the bullpen now. They owe it to the Joba Rules to see the process out to the end.
That being said, Chamberlain in the rotation wont be as bad as many think it would. Last year showed that until the Yankees handcuffed their young righty with ridiculous pitch counts he was more than adequate. Chamberlain reached his career high of 110 innings after eight shut out innings against the Rays, the Yanks went about skipping his turn and limiting his pitches. That severely curtailed his performance. I think that if he is left alone his performance will greatly improve.
The Red Sox on the other hand have fewer candidates for their fifth spot than a year ago. That season it seemed that the Sox were signing every rehab veteran around with the hope that one would return to form. In the cases of Brad Penny and John Smotlz the results were far from favorable. However there was a bright spot when Clay Buchholz was able to stabilize the last spot over the final two and a half months of the season.
The young righty will be coming into this season as a main contender for the fifth spot. He and Tim Wakefield will both start the season in the rotation until Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready to take a rotation slot. After that one will probably be shifted to the bullpen and, as long as Buchholz doesn't choke in his first few starts, that one will probably be Wakefield since it will be much easier for the knuckleballer to adjust back and forth between the pen and the rotation.
If you had to compare the overall pool of fifth starter candidates from both teams, I would give the nod to the Yankees for having more talent, but if you were to go by which two starters are most likely to get those jobs, I would go with Buchholz over Joba. They have both had their ups and downs over their short careers, but Buchholz was more consistently effective over the final two months of the season which is a lot longer than any stretch Joba has had in his major league starting career.
I'll give this one and the rotation battle to the Red Sox, 3-2.