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Joba Chamberlain Latest Member Of Yankee Bullpen Sidelined

Joba Chamberlain is on the 15-day disabled list and headed for a second MRI today on what the New York Yankees have diagnosed as a strained flexor tendon in his throwing arm. GM Brian Cashman said Chamberlain could be gone for a month, even if there is no worse news than the strained tendon.

UPDATE: Chamberlain out for year with torn elbow ligament

That news leaves the Yankees, and their fans, looking around the bullpen and wondering what the heck has happened. Knowing their starting rotation would be suspect after Andy Pettitte retired ownership overruled Cashman and signed Rafael Soriano, a top-flight closer, to set up for Mariano Rivera at a cost $35 million for three years. The thought, of course, being if they could not dominate games with their starters the Yankees would shorten games and dominate them with their bullpen.

Only now, most of that bullpen is gone. Rivera is still there and, usually, still pitches like Rivera. Now, though, the bullpen the Yankees counted on has been decimated. Chamberlain is down. Soriano is down with another in a long line of elbow injuries and when or if he will return is unknown. Pedro Feliciano, signed to be a lefty specialist, may not pitch at all this season. .

The Yankees are left with guys like Amauri Sanit, Jeff Vazquez, Lance Pendleton and Luis Ayala in their bullpen, and a youngster like Hector Noesi bouncing back and forth between New York and Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

Wednesday night the Yankees watched Alfredo Aceves, a key member of the bullpen during the 2009 World Series run, pitch 3.2 innings to gain his first save for Boston. Aceves was released after being injured for much of the 2010 season.

Not even counting Aceves, you could built a quality bullpen out of pitchers who came through the Yankee farm system only to be traded away. River Avenue Blues put together the list, and the name that kills me is Mark Melancon. He was looked at as a future closer when he was coming up through the Yankee system, but manager Joe Girardi never seemed to trust him. Guess what? Melancon, traded for Lance Berkman, is now closing successfully for the Houston Astros.

So, what do the Yankees do now? That is a really good question. Do they take one of the promising young starters in their system, like Dellin Betances, and force-feed him into the big-league bullpen like they did with Chamberlain a few years back? Do they get Noesi back to the big leagues and expand his role?

Trading for bullpen help is always a dicey proposition, and the Yankees have seen over the years that for every Kerry Wood who succeeds after being acquired there are a bunch of guys like Armando Benitez, Gabe White or Jay Witasick who don't.

Plainly, the Yankees don't have many good options right now.