Joba Chamberlain finally returned to the Yankees Wednesday night after sitting on the DL for over a year with Tommy John Surgery in his elbow and then an open dislocation in his ankle, but it certainly wasn’t the first game back fans were hoping for.
Rust is typical. It’s to be expected, but for weeks we’ve been hearing about how good he has looked in rehab games. He was supposedly sitting in the high-90’s with his fastball and even topped out at 100 mph according to one report. We didn’t see that at all last night. Instead we saw a guy who topped out at 93 mph, most of his pitches were slower than that, and none of them had much life or late movement to them.
In fact, it only took until the second pitch to tell that Joba was not quite ready to face major league hitters – a slider with almost no movement that hung right down the middle that J.J. Hardey deposited into the left field stands.
It was the same the rest of the night. Joba allowed four hits in just 1.2 innings. He was throwing strikes, but seemingly had no command of the strike zone.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Joba is back and he’s shaking off the rust. He’ll get there eventually. It seemed almost as if he was going through great pains not to overthrow the ball every time. If that’s the case, it may simply be a matter of time before he starts pumping in 97-mph fastballs while mixing them in with a deadly slider because the more he throws, the more comfortable he’ll feel. Then instincts will take over.