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Pinstriped glory, the greatest moments in Yankee history part four: The ’98 Yankees’ magnificent season

There are a few things about the Yankees that I’m very stubborn about, things that no matter how hard you debate with me I’ll just never change my mind on. For instance, Joe DiMaggio is the greatest baseball player the world has ever seen, if I ever have a son, I want him to grow up to be the man Lou Gehrig was, and the 1927 team is the greatest that baseball will ever see. However, while I am of the mindset the ’27 team is the greatest, there will never be a season more impressive than 1998. The team won 114 games in the regular season while losing only 48. They won the AL East by a mind boggling 22 games and went 11-2 in the playoffs sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series for the club’s 24th overall championship. Their win total regular season and postseason combined was 125 which is still a major league record to this day.

Why the "Joba Rules" cannot make a return to the Bronx

Chad Green was an enormous part of the Yankees’ success in 2018. The bullpen struggled mightily in the early parts of the season, but eventually became a major strength, and Green was a big reason for that. 
Photo Credit: AP
Think back to the 2017 Wild Card game against the Twins. The top of the first inning was very rough, because Luis Severino got shelled in his first postseason start and was done after recording just one out. Coming in to clean up Severino’s mess was Green. The score was already 3-0 Minnesota, and they were still threatening as Severino left with runners on second and third and still only one out. 

Green would have to do some magic to work out of the jam without allowing another run and that’s exactly what he did.

By striking out the next two batters in the Twins lineup, Bryon Buxton and Jason Castro, Green kept the Yankees in striking distance. They caught up and eventually won the game. Green’s performance was the difference between a 3-0 game or a 5-0 game, which is very significant. He stepped up when it mattered most to keep it a three-run game. This could’ve been the difference between the Yankees advancing or not.

There has been speculation that Green could possibly move to the rotation in 2018. Apparently, the Yankees haven’t learned their lesson yet. Remember our old friend Joba Chamberlain? Of course, you do! The year was 2007, and Chamberlain was dominating out of the bullpen. As the old adage goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The Yankees should have abided by that saying.

Chamberlain had pitched mostly as a starter prior to being called up to the majors, but the Yankees decided to use him as a reliever. In 19 games in 2007, Chamberlain posted a 0.38 ERA, striking out 34 batters in just 24 innings. In 2008, the Yankees began to convert Chamberlain from a reliever to a starter. With this came the “Joba Rules”, a set of rules that strictly regulated how the Yankees would use Chamberlain in order to not injure him.
Photo Credit: Brad Penner | USA Today 
Between pitch counts and inning limits, the Yankees coddled him as he transitioned to the starting role, an approach that many people believed ultimately ruined his career. In 2008, he split time between the bullpen and rotation. Out of 42 games, he started just 12, posting a 2.60 ERA. Of course, many of those starts were short outings because of the limits put on him by Yankees management. 

They tried making him a full-time starter in 2009, when he started 31 games. The Yankees still had some restraints on him, as he only threw 157 innings. However, it was when Chamberlain became a full-time starter that his career began to go downhill. After posting a 4.75 ERA in those 31 starts, the Yankees realized the mistake they had made and tried to move him back to the pen, where he had been so valuable. 

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the same pitcher after that and struggled over the next few years. He bounced around the league and has not pitched since 2016.

The Yankees currently have one of the best relievers in baseball with Chad Green just like they did with Joba Chamberlain eleven years earlier. Don’t make the same mistake again. Leave Green in the pen where he belongs.

Article by: Shawn Maguire