The Joba Chamberlain Show; what’s next for the burly pitcher?


Bronx Baseball Daily welcomes yet another new writer to the team, Marc Perez-Santalla. Marc’s first article discusses the man that we all love to debate over — Joba Chamberlain. The starter vs. reliever debate has been mostly put to bed these days, but the result of that debate might be that he exits the Bronx when he becomes a free agent after this season. Join me in welcoming Marc to the team and enjoy his piece.

By Marc Perez-Santalla

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain entered this year’s spring training fully healthy and ready to get back on the mound. At this time almost a year ago, Joba experienced a freak injury while he was already rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery performed in 2011.

Chamberlain was jumping on a trampoline with his son Karter and came down badly on his right foot (the foot he pushes off on).  He suffered an open dislocation of the ankle and lost a significant amount of blood.

At the time, it was speculated that the injury could be career threatening. Joba was able to tough through his recovery and made it back to the team towards the end of the season, pitching twenty-two mediocre innings in middle relief with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Fortunately for Chamberlain, he made it through this offseason without any freak injuries and came into camp ready to play.

Joba’s entire Yankee career has been a bit of a public spectacle. He got called up in 2007 and looked like a godsend to the organization. He overpowered hitters, only allowing one earned run in 24 innings while racking up 34 strikeouts. Chamberlain was initially under the restrictions of the infamous “Joba Rules,” where he was prevented from pitching in back-to-back days and received an extra day of rest for each inning he threw in an appearance.

In 2008, it seemed as though he would continue his ascent into becoming a dominant pitcher. While logging 100 hundred innings as both a reliever and a starter, Joba accumulated an exceptional 2.60 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and had 10.6 K/9. In 2009, Joba won the battle to be the fifth starter over Phil Hughes. Much to everyone’s disappointment, he regressed and was dismal in the starting rotation. He finished the regular season with a 9-6 record, while struggling to the tune of a 4.75 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. He performed admirably in a set-up role during the world season run, allowing two runs during six and a third innings.

The next season, Joba was once again in competition with Phil Hughes for the final rotation spot. This time though, he lost the battle and was relegated to the bullpen. Joba proceeded to continue his struggles during the first half of the season, posting an ERA north of 5.00. There still seemed to be hope though, as Joba righted the ship and finished out the year with a 2.38 ERA in his final 28 outings.

In 2011, he was designated to bullpen duty where he once again showed his flair and dominance, posting a 2.83 ERA and allowing just over one batter to reach base per inning. Just when things were starting to look up again for Joba, he suffered a devastating elbow injury in June that required Tommy John Surgery. It was initially predicted that Chamberlain would miss ten to fourteen months, thus putting a hold on his precarious career as a Yankee.

Joba’s future with the team is uncertain at this point. The one thing that is definite though, is that he will pitch in the bullpen, possibly setting up for David Robertson. Joba hopes to pitch well for the Yanks as his impending free agency looms at the conclusion of this season.

His chances to stay with the Yankees following 2013 are beginning to look unlikely, as he made some disconcerting comments to a reporter about a week ago. Joba was asked if he wanted to be a closer and he replied: “At some point, yes.”

He continued by also alluding to the idea of being a starter again; “It’s one of those things. Do I have four pitches I can throw for strikes? Yes. Do I have two pitches I can throw at any time? Yes. I guess I am trying to have my cake and eat it, too. I feel I am in a position to do both and I have proven I can [start or relieve]. I want to do one or the other. I found my confidence in the bullpen and if I get a chance to start — wherever that’s at — without a doubt.”

Based on those comments, it appears as though Joba views himself as either a big league starter or closer, as opposed to middle relief duty. The Yankees have essentially given up on him as a starting pitcher and there does not appear to be a closing opportunity for him with the club next season. The team will most likely choose to go with quality set-up man David Robertson, or possibly top relieving prospect Mark Montgomery.

On top of this, Joba is already making almost two million dollars this season, and with a solid season could be primed for more money elsewhere. While Joba Chamberlain’s future with the organization is ambiguous, Yankee fans are just hoping that he can pull it together and lock down the seventh inning for the team.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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4 Responses to The Joba Chamberlain Show; what’s next for the burly pitcher?

  1. Clay says:

    I hope Joba does well this year and I also hope the Yankees retain him.

  2. Dayne says:

    i hope he has an awesome first half of the season so we can leverage his performance to a club like the Tigers or whoever need a closer or high leverage reliever for the stretch run. Teams always seem willing to pay more for things they need at the deadline if they are in contention. I would rather see them get something for him rather than nothing if/when he walks in FA this winter.

    I know this is very un Yankee fan of me but if he does sign else where I really hope that he gets a shot at being a starter again and is dominant,, as long as that team isn't in the AL East. Making all the people that stuck him in the BP without ever giving him a true shot at such a young age look like giant douche bags. I' can just see a team like the Rangers, Tiger or Angels picking him up, giving him the chance to start and making the brass regret it for a long time. I'd be thrilled for him if he went on to win 20 games or an Nl CY young. He;s only 27 and should just be entering his prime.

    It still absolutely baffles me that Joba with 4 above average to plus plus pitches gets put in the pen full time after his 23 yr old season and only 42 starts, with at least 1/4th were limited to 2-4 innings , Yet they ve seen fit to give Hughes, an extra 3-4 yrs, 70+ more starts and chance after chance to try to figure out a descent 3rd offering among his other problem., which he still hasn't found.

    Another thing i find comical is that Nova now has 20+ more starts than Joba had and they have also let him battle through alot of his problems for the most part with very few restrictions.

    The most cosmical of all that to me is Joba has a better significantly lower ERA and for the most part better numbers across the board than either than Hughes or Nova and Hughes has much better BP numbers than Joba. IMO between the 2 the wrong one is starting and reliving based on the numbers

    The Yanks have talked for yrs about developing their own elite starters yet they put the guy with the best arm, pre surgery definitely, and way better secondary pitches in the pen at age 23 never to be given another chance to start again.. IMO he's the best right handed pitching prospect we ve had in a very long time, the only one that comes close was Cristian Garcia. He probably still has the best RHed arm on the MLB team. If he were properly stretched out I think he could put up better numbers than Hughes, Nova or Phelps.

    If their was ever a manual to screw up and elite pitching prospect they could just show the way they developed Joba. Hopefully with Eiland and Patterson now being in charge of the pitchers they won't screw someone else like they did with Joba. I really hope it doesn't come back to bite us.

  3. Clay says:

    Dayne: great input. I'm with you on Joba. Wherever Joba lands in the future, I want him to do well and I hope he gets a chance to start or be a closer somewhere. I'm a Yankee fan and I prefer him staying with the Yankees but I want him to flourish on the right team. I've got this hunch that he has so much more potential and he needs to be somewhere that can unleash it. I wish it was with the Yankees but if it is true that Cashman and Girardi "dismissed" Joba's desire to start or close, he will end up somewhere else.

    If I was a coach/mgr, I want my players to have both a competitive edge and a team player mentality in them. I see Joba having both. Early in his career he was a little over the board on the competitive side but I didn't bother me too much since he was young and he was surrounded by some great mature, professionals on his team that could help mentor him.

  4. Mic says:

    I'm still SHOCKED when i think back to where this kid started and where he is today. What the Yankees did to him was criminal. I hope he leaves AND goes to an al east team, comes to the Bronx and OWNS the yanks, adding to the rapidly diminishing reputation of Brian cash man.

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