Joba Chamberlain: To Bullpen Or Not To Bullpen?

July 5, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees


For the last two years, we have heard the $64 million dollar question: Where does Joba Chamberlain belong in the Yankee pitching staff?

This is his first season as a full-time starter. He has already made 16 starts and lets see where Joba is at:

In 16 starts, 84.2 innings—which averages out to 5.2 innings per start, 74 strikeouts, 41 walks and has four wins.

So with the major league season about half way through, Joba has only won 1-4 of his starts and he also hasn’t given the Yankees any major length in his starts.

Now, I know there are going to be those people who are going to read this and say Joba needs to stay in the rotation and be patient.

Believe me, I have been patient…and up until now, I have been a Joba as a starter supporter. But, my patience is wearing thin.

The Yankees are breathing down Boston’s neck in the AL East race. We can easily win the division as we could win the Wild Card. If the playoffs were to start today, the Yankees are in, so right now, we’re a playoff team.

The Yankees need to start thinking short term to go along with the long term. I know they see Joba as a future ace. But when he’s throwing 100 pitches in only four or five innings and causing the bullpen to be over-used, that’s not ace-like stuff.

Here’s another problem, up until last season, Joba averaged anywhere between 96-99 miles per hour on his fastball to go along with his slider and curve ball. But ever since the injury back in August of 2008 in Texas, Joba is lucky if his fastball gets up to 96, as it has averaged anywhere from 91-93 miles per hour.

Now, 93 is a good fastball. But when Joba’s velocity is down and he’s giving up more runs in a game, that’s got to be a major concern. Can he even throw 98 anymore?

With the trade deadline looming this month, the Yankees have a few questions to figure out if they want to take over the AL East and the Red Sox.

Do the Yankees stick it out with Joba and hope he can figure out his stuff before October? Do the Yankees move Phil Hughes back into the rotation? Do the Yankees trade for another starter?

With Chien-Ming Wang back on the disabled list with the strained shoulder, that decreases the chance of Joba getting moved back into the bullpen. Also with Phil Hughes virtually dominating in the bullpen now, that also decreases Joba’s chance of being moved back to the bullpen.

It looks like the only way the Yankees will ever move Joba back to the bullpen is if they go out and trade for a starter or two. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte are locks in the Yankee rotation.

With Wang again on the Disabled List, that opens up his spot in the rotation. Also, with Joba’s 150-inning limit placed on him before the season started to go along with the struggles Joba has had in the rotation, Joba’s spot could be opened up as well. That leaves two major spots in the Yankee pitching rotation.

It looks more and more that Joba could and will get moved back to the bullpen, because he has been anything but dominant or even good lately; and if the Yankees are going to make a run and compete with the Red Sox and try to beat them, they need to make some moves, and soon.

My suggestion here is make a trade; maybe even make two trades for starting pitchers. If the Yankees can get one starter, that might keep Joba in the rotation for now. If the Yankees can get a second starter depending on the seriousness of Wang’s injury, then Joba will have to move back to the bullpen.

Joba’s fate rests on his own self and how good or how bad he pitches.

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