Split Decisions: Future AL East Aces
Comparing Chamberlain and Buchholz
See also: Low Strikeout Rate Pitchers
See also: First basemen
See also: Fukudome vs. Heyward
See also: Future closers
See also: Five online extra split decisions
As part of our 19th annual Top 100 Prospects list, we present Split Decisions, where our prospect experts explain why they favored certain players over others. Editors in chief Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and national writer Chris Kline put together the Top 100 and defend their thinking. First up is a discussion of the game's top two pitching prospects: Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain.
In terms of pure stuff, I think Buchholz' curveball and changeup are right up there with Chamberlain's fastball and slider. I'd love to have either of those guys, but I'd take Buchholz for two reasons. One, his plus fastball and occasional plus slider give him a deeper repertoire. And two, given their pasts and their builds, I think Buchholz is a better bet to stay healthy over the long haul.
They're both fearless, but Chamberlain pitches off his fastball more consistently. And not that Buchholz is some soft-tosser, but I when I think of an elite pitcher who will come right after hitters with pure power, it's Chamberlain. And for as good as Buchholz' secondary stuff is, Chamberlain's arsenal of secondary pitches seems a little underrated to me.
I think given Chamberlain's build, durability questions, and overwhelming success out of the bullpen, it's going to be mighty tempting for the Yankees to make him Mariano Rivera's successor. I know they're talking about moving him to the rotation at midseason, but Jonathan Papelbon was a starter at this time last year too. I just think Buchholz is a little more likely to end up as a long-term No. 1 starter.
I ranked Joba higher because he's a four-pitch guy with two (fastball, slider) that earn 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, plus command and impeccable makeup. He can get big leaguers out with a fastball in fastball counts, while Buchholz relies more on his secondary stuff. Chamberlain's superior fastball makes him the better bet to be a long-term ace. In fact, it makes him the best pitching prospect to come around since I've been at BA, surpassing Josh Beckett and Mark Prior.