What do the Yankees do with Joba Chamberlain?

Throughout Joba Chamberlain‘s late season struggles last year many fans and pundits insisted that it was because the Yankees were messing with him too much and that he was not pitching ‘where he belonged’ in the bullpen.

Well, the Yankees haven’t been messing with him and he’s been in the bullpen, even further, he’s one of the few who have had a consistent role as the 8th inning guy. Through all of this Joba has been as inconsistent as ever. Last night he was even hitting 97 MPH, so you know it’s not the velocity that’s the problem. What’s the problem then? It’s probably that he’s a young pitcher, he’s still just 24 after all, still learning how to get major league hitters out.

That’s the problem, as part of his development he’s going to lay eggs every once and a while because not every young pitcher is Tim Lincecum. And Joba has laid quite a few eggs recently. It’s the end of May and his ERA is an unsightly 5.82 and more recently it has been 18.00 with a blown save and two loses over his last five appearances.

This brings us to the main question, what should the Yankees do with Joba Chamberlain? It is certainly not time yet to give up on him, but it seems hard to justify just keeping him in that 8th inning role right now. The problem is that the bullpen has been failing the Yankees at every opportunity lately and there is no one pitcher that seems ready to step into that role especially with David Robertson‘s health questionable.

Ideally the Yankees might send a struggling 24-year-old back to the minors to work through his problems, regain some confidence, and return better than ever, but again the bullpen has been in rough shape and removing a healthy pitcher might not be the best choice.

Part of me can’t help but wonder if he’s actually supposed to a reliever. Before 2007 Joba never pitched out of the pen at any level and he was never a two pitch pitcher. Part of the problem could be that he is used to using his full arsenal relying on his curveball and changeup when he gets into trouble, but as a reliever he has largely abandoned those pitches. So when his slider isn’t biting, and it hasn’t been lately, he’s left to die by that fastball.

This is something that I’d like to see the Yankees go back to especially considering the questions surrounding Javier Vazquez. Maybe the best thing for both Joba and the team is that they send him back down to the minors, as a starter. That way instead of being able to work on his game an inning at a time he can really get some time as a starter to work through his issues. It would also be the best way for him to work on his pitches so that when his slider isn’t working he has other options.

If the Yankees don’t do that their next best option is probably just to use him in lower leverage situations until his confidence and the team’s confidence in him is returned. I just wonder if that’s actually going to make him a better pitcher or not.

I’m going to say it though, maybe where Joba “belongs” is back in the minors continuing his development as a starter. If he were a minor league starter at least he would have more value to the Yankees as trade bait than as a mediocre major league reliever.

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10 Responses to What do the Yankees do with Joba Chamberlain?

  1. Eric Communiello says:

    Way, way, way too early to even think about giving up on Joba. It's been three bad outings surrounded by zeroes. Take him out of the 8th inning role for a little while and let him sort it out. He'll bounce back.

    • Stephen Crociata says:

      But those 3 bad outings show why he isn't made for an important reliever role do you honestly think he will ever be a sub 3.50 ERA reliever? I also hope this shuts up Mike Francesca who thinks Joba is the next Yankees closer.

      • Eric Communiello says:

        I just don’t know how you can value those three outings more than the other 19 he’s made this season. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but there’s been more ups than downs, and that’s to be expected from a 24-year old pitcher. Give him time.

        I’ve always been in favor of Joba the starting pitcher, but we’ve gotta make due with what we’ve got, and we’ve currently got Joba the reliever.

        And unfortunately, Francesca will never ever shut up.

        • Stephen Crociata says:

          I've been the same way wanting Joba as a starter because if his ERA is 4.20 as a starter I'd take that but not as a reliever. I actually really like Rob's point of him starting in the minors that would not only be the best for the Yankees but also him. A big reason I wanted Hughes in the pen was because you can survive having a so-so starter(s) but good relief is hard to find. In my opinion Hughes is better as both a SP and a RP. Relief is harder to find than a starter, every year a bunch of no names have good seasons starting but good life long reliever/closer is almost impossible to find. I think the Yankees could have turned both Hughes/Chamberlain into complete success but now my feeling is they've ruined poor Joba.

  2. Duh says:

    Simple, trade him for Roy Oswalt and move Javier Vazquez to the bullpen….then get ready for more parades.

  3. smurfy says:

    Somebody needs to work with him, to straighten out his thinking on the mound, to engender the killer instinct. The Yanks used to use Billy Connors in such a role, right? And yeah, if his slider command fails, he should use the curve, as he did yesterday to good effect, or the changeup, if ready.

  4. Stephen Crociata says:

    The second they decided to make him a reliever they should have tried to unload him. Sometimes he has great velocity but his mechanics don’t make for a good reliever since many times when he used to start we saw him struggle early in games. Now he has little value and if they were to unload him MAYBE the NL would work like it did for Carlos Silva, but I still wouldn’t see the Yankees getting a huge return (although the Cubs could probably use him and they have some decent small pieces). My final point is maybe Chamberlain was just never good and his domination when he was first called up was just due to people being unfamiliar with him.

  5. af says:

    Year after year we see the same problems with the pen and with some of the younger starting pitchers as well. I wonder if Eiland really has a clue about how to handle these guys…

  6. DaveyBoy says:

    Trade him for whatever you can get…..the Yankees need strength in middle relief pitching…..this guy can’t find the plate or just doesn’t want to find it. He plays the nibbling role and he’s not experienced enough to do that. While he has the strength, he should use it….learn to use all parts of the strike zone and fire it in! But, I don’t think that’s his game, so move him out.

  7. nyyank55 says:

    Nothing is wrong with Joba except for his head and pitch selection which goes back to his head. Why does a guy who throws 97mph nibble so much? He tries to be too fine instead of relying on his stuff. He’s Farnsworth all over again. Instead of coming right at guys and blowing them away like he did in 07, he tries to be cute and get guys to swing at pitches out of the zone. Then he gets behind in counts and the trouble starts. He has fallen in love with his slider and often throws it in fastball counts. It’s almost as if he uses the slider to set up his fastball rather than the other way around. The overpowering fastball that God gave him should be his out pitch…not the slider.