Everyone seems to be talking about Joba Chamberlain’s velocity these days. Via Mark Feinsand today:
Joba Chamberlain tossed 5 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks, striking out six. His fastball ranged from 90-96, which is where you should expect to see it during the season.
“It wasn’t a huge concern to me, because he had been at 95 earlier in the spring,” Joe Girardi said. “I know some people were concerned about it, but I figured he’d get a little stronger and as we got closer we’d see his velocity return.”
Chamberlain finishes his official spring starts with a 4-0 record and 3.60 ERA, a considerable improvement over the 6.14 ERA he posted last spring. Chamberlain also struck out 20 batters in 20 innings.
“Last spring, he was very unimpressive, but when it was lights, camera, action, he was game-on,” Brian Cashman said. “Some people are that way.”
Rob Neyer had a nice write-up on the matter today as well.
Now, there is something else to remember here – at the end of last season, Chamberlain was clocked at 91 MPH.
So, what gives? Joba was throwing around 97 MPH when he converted to starting last year. And, he was at 91 MPH in late September 2008 – after coming back from his injury. Lastly, he’s been throwing 95, 92, and 94 MPH at times this Spring.
Well, you can forget the 97+ MPH stuff – as that was when he was coming out of the pen. And, you can probably forget the reading at the end of last year – because he was most likely taking baby-steps with his wing at that time. What you see, this Spring, is probably what you should expect from Chamberlain this year: A heater in the range of 92 to 95 MPH. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, at all.
Now, if he was reported to throw 95 MPH and he was routinely showing up at 88-92 MPH, that would be a horse of a different color.
A 95 MPH fastball gets to the plate in about .43 of a second whereas an 88 MPH fastball gets to the plate in about .47 of a second. That seems like a small difference. However, that .04 of a second is the difference between getting away with a pitch that has too much white on white (meaning ball is over the plate too much) and not getting away with that pitch.
In any event, the bigger issue may be to watch Chamberlain’s velocity after he’s made 15 to 20 starts this season. If it starts to drop at that time, it’s a red flag. But, for now, I really don’t see anything to be concerned about – with respect to the speed of his pitches. Control and running up a pitch count may be a whole ‘nother thing…