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Yankee stadium tonight is going to be filled with a buzz usually reserved for the post-season. Tonight Joba Chamberlain won't be emerging from his typical spot in right field bullpen to screaming and chanting of tens of thousands of fans. Tonight Joba will be on the mound as tens of thousands of fans nervously anticipate what's to come.
I'm excited and nervous for Joba's debut tonight. I'm excited for the obvious reasons; having a homegrown ace with electrifying stuff (and a great personality to boot) is rarity in baseball these days. I've been clamoring for Joba to be a starter since day one and tonight hopefully will be the start of a long and brilliant career that will validate his move to the rotation.
I'm nervous for the obvious reasons. New York can (and will) turn on you in a second, just ask A-Rod. And while Joba has been exposed to the pressures pitching in pin stripes can impose on you, he's never been under as big of a microscope as he will tonight. I guarantee you Joba's face will be plastered on the back page of every NY newspaper tomorrow. Along with the cover will come a full analysis of his debut as well as an editorial debating the merits of Joba as a starter. I can only imagine NY talk radio if Joba has one bad start, let alone two or three.
So let's be realistic Yankee fans, let's temper our expectations a bit. Joba is a young kid making his debut under absurd scrutiny and a rigid pitch count. I doubt Joba will even be pitching deep enough into the game to qualify for a win.
Secondly, Joba has yet to go through a line up more than once. I'm not saying hitters will just be smoking him the second time through the lineup, but it's something, as a starter, Joba will have to adjust to (and it might take a couple starts to do so.)
Everyone wants Joba to be the next big thing and I do to. It's important to remember that even if Joba struggles it doesn't mean he can't be the next Josh Beckett, before Josh Beckett was a Cy-Young candidate he posted a 5.01 ERA in 33 starts with the Red Sox.
In the long run Joba has the potential to be a dominant front line starter. Tonights performance, one way or another doesn't change that. Come To The Third String Safety tonight for a live blog of Jobas debut as a starter!