Joba Chamberlain. Probably the best young pitcher in the game with the worst record. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via Peter Abraham), Joba’s 10 decisions in 29 starts are the fewest in Major League Baseball history.
Joba is a solid 7-3 in those decisions, but the issue is most likely trust among his teammates, as Abraham points out. An inefficient pitcher causes the fielders behind him to lose focus and motivation. When it takes Joba 10-12 pitches to get one batter out, a fielder gets frustrated.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Joba. I think he has what it takes to be one of the best pitchers in history. He has an array of good pitches and when he is on, he is lights out. No one can hit him.
But when he isn’t on, its atrocious and he is pulled out after 4, 5 or 6 innings, having allowed 5 or 6 runs by that time. Meaning the bullpen has to work hard to keep the opposing lineup from scoring while the Yankee hitters have to work hard to try and win.
Joba has made 17 starts this season, and has managed only a 4-2 record with a 4.25 ERA. He has made it out of the sixth inning twice, June 1 against Cleveland when he threw a 4 hitter through 8 innings, and on April 29 against Detroit, when he threw a 3 hitter through seven.
Six times, he has not made it out of the fifth inning, meaning he had no chance to get the win, despite the Yankees managing to win 4 of those 6 games.
The fact is, Joba is not cutting it and the brass needs to do something about it fast. After his last two starts he has told Peter Abraham that he felt his mechanics were the best he has had all this season. Really? Cause he pitched a total of 8 innings in those two games, allowing 18 hits (18!!!) plus 7 earned runs, three homers and only 5 K’s.
Seems to me, Joba has either no idea what good mechanics are or he is simply saying BS to the reporters. I assume the latter.
The fact of the matter is, Joba is not the pitcher he used to be and that is sad considering he is 23. Take his 2007 numbers as an example. Coming out of the bullpen for most of the second half of the season, he threw 24 innings in 19 games, allowing batters only 12 hits, 1 homer and 6 walks with only one earned run. He had a 0.38 ERA that season and struck out 34 batters.
Fast forward to 2009. 17 games, 89 IP, 97 hits, 12 homers and 42 walks allowed. He is responsible for 42 runs and has managed only 78 strike outs.
I hate to say this, but I would give Joba 1 or 2 more bad starts before I’d ship him back to the minors or the bullpen to work on his “great mechanics.” Phil Hughes has shown he might be much more effective as a starter. Even perhaps Alfredo Aceves or Kei Igawa (shock!)