Joba's Inconsistency Not Tied to Role

Joba Chamberlain didn’t have a particularly good night Monday night.  He allowed 2 hits, a walk, and a run in 1 and 1/3 innings.  He certainly didn’t implode, but he was far for dominant.  His fastball, as far as I could tell, never really got above 93 (assuming the YES gun was somewhat accurate) and the control of his breaking pitches seemed to come and go.

Now, to be honest, this isn’t really a huge deal.  Chamberlain is still a very young pitcher and it’s still early in the season.  It’s hard to expect Joba to be sharp all the time.

However, last night’s outing shows exactly why the whole starter versus reliever debate is flawed.  Joba is a young and inconsistent pitcher.  He was dominant out of the bullpen in 2007 and was dominant for periods of time as a starter in 2008.  Ever since his shoulder injury against the Rangers that year, however, he has only occasionally shown flashes of his potential.  Was that injury more serious than we were lead to believe, or is this just the natural progression of a young pitcher?  It seems that either is possible.

Either way though, Chamberlain’s effectiveness is not tied to his role.  Sure, his numbers look a little better when relieving, but that is true for any pitcher.

I’ve heard many times people complaining about the Yankees’ attempt to turn Joba into a starter, but it very well could be their attempt to turn him into a reliever that has hurt his development.  Joba had always been a starter – in college and in the minors – yet in 2007 he became a setup man because the Yankees felt he could help the big league club the most in that role.  That was certainly true at the time, but really Joba probably should have made a few more starts and just been shut down for the year.

Could Chamberlain have avoided his arm problems and bouts with ineffectiveness if he had never tried relieving to begin with?  Sure, relieving means less innings but it requires more frequent pitching – something Chamberlain was not used to.

This is all speculation of course, but the point is that Chamberlain is an inconsistent pitcher right now, no matter how the Yankees use him.  Hopefully Joba will find that consistency – both in control and velocity – as he continues to mature.

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5 Responses to Joba's Inconsistency Not Tied to Role

  1. smurfy says:

    Yeah, Brian, we want him to bloom and boom. It was frustrating to see him pitch yesterday as inconsistenly as last year. That injury may be the rub. Seems like it's mental, a lack of a good plan and process of attack, but who knows? My hope is that in that shorter role, he can redevelop a plan, that transaction with the batter, that he could expand on.

  2. Chris Barrows says:

    I've always thought it was a mental thing with Joba. When he's not pitching well, he simply appears frustrated. I don't, however, think he lacks confidence. I still believe switching from "is he a starter" to "is he a reliever" over and over again has to have some impact on a players mental state. I know some would disagree with this, but I don't think one should consider the concept shocking either.

  3. smurfy says:

    He got two CRITICAL outs tonight with eight pitces – hardly wasted one. Loved it!

    Let him settle in, looks good. After awhile of success, they can (if they will – the players and Joe seem to like him in short relief) try him for longer pieces, then starts.

    • Lefty says:

      Hi Smurfy..Agree with most of what you say..Except, forget about starting him..Did you see him come out of the pen tonite in game 2? His body language, which is a reflection of his Lego set, said, "here I come & you're going down. He's just beginning to realize that he's most important coming out of the pen, and that he's the 900lb. gorilla who's going to turn the lights out. He's right where he belongs, let him build on that, and focus on that because Mo , contrary to popular belief, ain't going to last forever.

  4. Bronxboy46 says:

    You're doing what every fan who watches baseball 3 times a year does, assessing a player for pieces of one outing, typical armchair quarterback fodder. See the big picture…Joba pitched fine and was totally fired up, he looked excited to be out there and showed confidence even when he made small mistakes. What's all this nonsense about losing his fastball? First, he hit 96, second, there are a couple of guys in the bigs who can light up triple digits like the kid the Sox ran out there tonight and got beat by Swisher on a 99MPH heater. His offspeed stuff is devastating and if he has to dial it back to 93-95 to protect his shoulder, it's still plenty of gas when your hook is 15MPH slower. Joba will be Mo's replacement, not a starter and he's going to have a brilliant career, one that surely can't be sized up even by you "experts" in 9 pitches in the first week of the season.