2010 Player Previews: Joba Chamberlain

2009: Uh-oh. Well the first four spots in the Yankees rotation are, barring injury (knock on wood), set. Now the “fun” begins. Joba Chamberlain’s 2009 season was considered a disaster by the New York press and many sports writers and commentators. But, when you actually look at his stats, he has a solid season for a young 5th starter. He certainly did not blow anyone away with his performances but he performed well enough that he should get credit. Before everyone turns on me let me plead my case.

First consider that the Yankees won the AL East by 8 games with Joba in the starting rotation without any heroic regular season performances from any starters. No starter won 20 games for the Yankees. Okay CC Sabathia won 19 but AJ Burnett only won 13 and Andy Pettitte only won 14. The point is that having Joba in the rotation did not hamper the Yanks.

Next consider that by all accounts his stats were not terrible. Joba finished 9-6 with 157.1 innings pitched. A 4.75 ERA will not impress anyone but as a 5th starter it is decent. 76 walks compared to 133 strikeouts is an okay ratio which will steadily improve the longer he is in the league. While he racked up 16 no decisions, not including relief appearances, the Yankees won 11. That means in games that Joba started the Yankees were 20-11. You can argue that since he was taken out of the game early in some of his later starts that the credit should go to the middle relievers. And it does. My point is simply that the Yankees did not fall apart when Joba was in the lineup.

Lastly consider this article by the wonderful Bronx Baseball Daily writer Rob Abruzzese which addresses the velocity issue. Joba was also hampered by pitch counts as well as a few exceptionally poor outings which really hurt his ERA. The latter will improve as he develops into a more mature pitcher and the pitch count will most likely be much more relaxed this time around. Just consider his stats as a young 5th starter and you will see that he was not as bad as many Yankee fans believed he was.

  • 2009 Stats: 31 Games Started 9 Wins 6 Losses 4.75 ERA 157.1 Innings 167 Hits 76 Walks 133 Strikeouts

2010: There are two scenarios for Joba’s 2010 season: he gets the starting job or he doesn’t get the starting job. Within each option there are multiple scenarios that could occur. I am not going to start rolling out game theory but the point is that anything could happen. My personal belief is that he will get the starting job this year. The Yankees have invested too much time into prepping him to be a starter to just give up now and toss him back into the bullpen. Plus, as I stated above, he was not as bad as many people perceived him to be.

I do not think this will be the year of Joba. But with Javier Vazquez in the rotation, the end of strict pitch limits, and an AL East that is as offensively-lacking when compared to past years, I think Joba will perform better. Across the board look for his numbers to improve and his win total to increase dramatically.

  • 2010 Prediction: 34 Games Started 13 Wins 8 Losses 4.10 ERA 170 Innings 160 Hits 75 Walks 155 Strikeouts
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7 Responses to 2010 Player Previews: Joba Chamberlain

  1. stevebfromct says:

    Why is Joba hugging Mike Axisa ??….I'm just kidding. Mike doesn't need a scooter yet.

  2. Juke Early says:

    It’s odd considering most jocks are products of the “if ain’t broke” school of life, why, the NYY chose to be myopic. Here’s a young flame thrower they bring up who skyrockets past all expectation as a closer (AND set-up!), but because he WAS a starter in Trip A, has to fill that need. Mo is the man – but even he won’t be forever. They had a jewel in Joba and in their narrow POV, dropped him into an abyss. He roars back finally to pick up the excellent then faltering Phil Hughes. PUT JOBA IN THE @#%&*! PEN. KEEP HIM THERE FCS!!!

    • <sarcasm>Yeah! And if Joba can't cut it as closer than CC Sabathia should be the closer.</sarcasm>

      Are you kidding me? The closer is the most overrated spot on the team.

      • Peter Menking says:

        Oh Rob, you have such a way with words. I actually don't think the closer position is that overrated, while it is overvalued to a certain extent. The fact is that Mariano has been an amazing player for the Yankees and finding someone to replace him is important to Yankee fans.

        In reality, the closer position is not nearly as important as most people believe it is but I understand why people are desperate to find the "Next Mariano." What they need to realize is that no one will be quite like Mo and not worry too much about the closer, starters are way more useful over the long haul.

  3. Peter Menking says:

    Long term I think that Joba should be a starter Juke. Frankly I would prefer Hughes to be Mariano's successor because he shows more poise and control. A powerful fastball is nice but remember that Mo has remained successful because of his control and a dominant pitch. Eventually that fastball will die down and unless he manages to make his slider more devastating I don't think Joba belongs in the pen.

  4. smurfy says:

    Mo is the magic man, and I bet he'll be breaking bats in 2013. Joba's best chance to succeed is starting. Besides the sage advice about starting vs closing value, Joba can only learn from the experience, even if he ends up closing. He needs the mental exercise, like Peter said. But Phil can also benefit from volume exposure.

    Juke, think of John Smoltz and Dave Righetti: they win my medal for the willingness to adapt. You don't forget how to wing it.

  5. smurfy says:

    Juke, another thought against your argument: Joba has had rotator cuff tendinitis, and the stresses of warming up daily may be too much for it. Starts come with a controlled program.

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