• Why Joba Chamberlain Struggles

    Posted by on July 11th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Well, I’ve been saying it for over six weeks now, but, I’ll keep saying it until the Yankees get a clue on this one.

    Joba Chamberlain has not shown us the ability to take the mound every five days and maintain his “stuff.” Note his splits, to date this season, in terms of command and what batters do against him when he has regular (4 days) rest and when he gets an extra day’s rest (meaning 5 days rest):

    Days Rest	G	PA	SO/BB	 BA	 OBP	SLG
    4 Days		8	165	1.38	.316	.417	.500
    5 Days		7	184	2.63	.252	.324	.387
    6+ Days		2	53	1.40	.289	.396	.489
    

    So, the answer to the Joba problem is clear – move him to the pen, where he only has to throw an inning at a time, four days a week (or so) – and hope that, used this way, he will not feel as taxed as he is when you ask him to toe the rubber every five days and give you five innings, or more, a pop.

    Comments on Why Joba Chamberlain Struggles

    1. Pat F
      July 11th, 2009 | 12:30 pm

      the first problem is, if you move joba to the pen, who starts in his place? we are already down a starter.

      the second is, while you are definitely right joba has been great on 5 days rest as a starter, there is no direct correlation to that and pitching one inning 3 days per week. yes, maybe he won’t be as taxed, but maybe his reduced stuff is even less conducive to relieving than it is to starting at this time, no matter on how many days rest.

      third, as an organiztion, the yankees have to stop being so knee-jerk. it’s an absolute must. joba is not the first starter to experience problems early in his career. because he’s struggled on 4 days rest (and there are other problems) for half a season is not a reason to throw him in the pen, essentially giving up on him for now as a starter, because going to the pen is not helping his development. if you always try to “fix” every problem you have with every player in the short term, you ultimately stunt there development. sometimes problems don’t need to be fixed. sometimes they just have to be worked out over the long-term. it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially as “win now” as the yankees are. but it’s necessary if you want to get the most out of your players, especially young ones.

    2. jasyankfan
      July 11th, 2009 | 12:35 pm

      Do you think that these struggles may be mentally scarring Joba? It’s got to be a killer to the self esteem regardless of what he states to the reporters after the games. My logic is that Mo only has so much time left (unfortunately) and Joba can continue to be the setup man from now until Mo retires. Then Joba can step in and be the 9th inning shutdown man, the way Mo has been for all these years. It worked with Mo setting up for Wetteland, then becoming the full time closer. In the pen, Joba has that intimidation factor and it seems to have disappeared now that he’s a starter. Showed so much potential to be a great closer and like he was forced into lineup simply because a starter could not be found. I hope the Yanks realize soon that Joba needs to be in the pen.

    3. July 11th, 2009 | 12:52 pm

      Pat F wrote:

      the first problem is, if you move joba to the pen, who starts in his place?

      You mean, you have no faith in Brian Cashman’s ability to find a starting pitcher who can hold the other team to a BA/OBA/SLG line less than .316/.417/.500? ;-)

    4. Rich
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:04 pm

      He has not been the same pitcher since he walked off the mound in Texas last August with a shoulder injury. Consquently, unless there is a similar pattern in this split from last season, your observation is meaningless.

    5. Pat F
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:12 pm

      i think the big mistake was moving hughes to the pen. hughes had not been great as a starter. but he also hadn’t been bad. issues in the rotation is inevitable. hughes has been awesome as a reliever. but you need to fill out your rotation first. aceves and coke can handle the setting-up just fine, and maybe hughes figures it out. with wang’s injury and joba’s struggles, a mediocre hughes in the rotation is better than a dominant reliever. and that’s without the chance that hughes’ newfound confidence as a reliever doesn’t translate to starting, and he’s better than mediocre.

    6. Pat F
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:14 pm

      *injuries to the rotation are inevitable, and that’s why you need a surplus. just because you have 5 starters is not a good reason to move a 6th to the pen, because one of those 5 is probably going to have an issue at some point. if you do move your 6th, you’re left somewhat naked when things like wang’s injury and joba’s struggles happen.

    7. July 11th, 2009 | 1:18 pm

      Rich wrote:

      He has not been the same pitcher since he walked off the mound in Texas last August with a shoulder injury. Consquently, unless there is a similar pattern in this split from last season, your observation is meaningless.

      In 2008, his OPS allowed was 156 points higher on regular rest as opposed to an extra days rest – as a starting pitcher.

    8. sanair
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:26 pm

      If you don’t allow him to adjust to pitching every 5 days now, you won’t ever.

    9. antone
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:29 pm

      It’s definitely something to think about…but with Hughes and Aceves being the possible replacements and both need to be stretched out..it might not make much sense to do it now…

      …personally I think the Yankees pitching coaches have something to do with this because almost every pitcher that comes to the Yankees seems to pitch worse than he did before and when they leave they seem to pitch better…I don’t know if that’s something you ever looked at Steve but I would love to see the splits on that to see if it’s just my imagination or if it’s really true!

    10. July 11th, 2009 | 1:33 pm

      So, the answer to the Joba problem is clear – move him to the pen, where he only has to throw an inning at a time, four days a week (or so) – and hope that, used this way, he will not feel as taxed as he is when you ask him to toe the rubber every five days and give you five innings, or more, a pop.
      =============

      This is not the clear answer. The actual clear answer is to start him on five days rest every time. That’s not realistic, of course.

      But I really thought we’d gotten past this Joba to the pen stuff and had moved into Hughes to the pen stuff. Apparently not. Instead, we’re multitasking.

      In an effort to get a jump on the next round of arguments, I’ll just say that the Yankees should move Zach McAllister and Ivan Nova to the pen as well.

    11. antone
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:37 pm

      Joba’s K/9 – BB/9 – HR/9 and some other stats since he’s been with the Yanks:

      2007: 12.75 K/9 2.25 BB/9 0.38 HR/9 AVG .151 FIP 1.82

      2008: 10.58 K/9 3.50 BB/9 0.45 HR/9 AVG .235 FIP 2.65

      2009: 7.89 K/9 4.25 BB/9 1.21 HR/9 AVG .279 FIP 4.77

      He’s simply walking too many batters…even with the lower K rate if he kept his walks down he would still be a decent starter…

      Steve what are the raw totals for K’s and BB’s for each days rest ?

    12. July 11th, 2009 | 1:37 pm

      In all seriousness, though, the Yankees should only move to Joba back to the pen if proves himself completely unable to handle starting. Considering he didn’t really start struggling until a little over a month and 35 innings ago, that time has not yet come.

    13. cr1
      July 11th, 2009 | 1:48 pm

      Joba came to camp in poor condition this Spring, after a lazy, drunk off-season (rumors out of Nebraska said he kept it up even after the DUI). He was in no shape to pitch well every five days and I wonder if there’s any reason to suppose he will for the rest of this year. He doesn’t have the strength to throw fireballs or to last for long on the mound, and his poor conditioning affects his command and control as well.

      He needs to be babysat during the next offseason, with a promise that if he arrives out of condition in the Spring his rotation spot will go to someone who arrives in shape.

      I want to see how he performs when he gets his body right before deciding that it was all just a flash in the pan.

    14. antone
      July 11th, 2009 | 2:04 pm

      cr1 wrote:

      Joba came to camp in poor condition this Spring, after a lazy, drunk off-season (rumors out of Nebraska said he kept it up even after the DUI). He was in no shape to pitch well every five days and I wonder if there’s any reason to suppose he will for the rest of this year. He doesn’t have the strength to throw fireballs or to last for long on the mound, and his poor conditioning affects his command and control as well.
      He needs to be babysat during the next offseason, with a promise that if he arrives out of condition in the Spring his rotation spot will go to someone who arrives in shape.
      I want to see how he performs when he gets his body right before deciding that it was all just a flash in the pan.

      I think it’s more mechanics than conditioning…I mean look at David Wells and Curt Schilling…they were never in shape and pitched great…obviously it would be nice if he was in better shape, but it’s not like Joba was ever in that great of shape in the first place…considering that he gets lit up EARLY in games I’m thinking it’s more mechanics than conditioning…

    15. cr1
      July 11th, 2009 | 2:13 pm

      @ antone:
      Earlier he was getting lit up out of the gate, but look at last night: started out fine (strong?) and only later fell apart (tired?)…

      Makes me wonder.

      Or maybe it was just, as others have suggested — a tantrum, where he lost it when things didn’t go his way?

    16. ken
      July 11th, 2009 | 2:19 pm

      Now we know why it is so hard for the Yankees to develop starting pitchers. Their future careers are analyzed based on the last game’s performance. Or even last pitch?

      What Joba needs is to pitch. There will be fits and starts. We won’t know his ability for a year or two.

    17. cr1
      July 11th, 2009 | 2:26 pm

      @ ken:
      Yes I know the player development people chart their course according to the comments in the blogosphere… ;-)

    18. July 11th, 2009 | 9:02 pm

      [...] Why Joba Chamberlain Struggles / Sean Black and Brett Gerritse sign [...]

    19. susanmullen
      July 11th, 2009 | 11:50 pm

      Chamberlain is hurting the entire team. Persons in authority at the Yankee organization are allowing this to happen. I couldn’t care less how old he is or if the poor slob needs a few years to drain the life out of everyone around him. Since when is this organization a nursery school being run by its biggest infant? He has serious emotional problems. The biggest evidence of which is his recent arrest for drunk driving and night in jail. He has a young toddler who could easily have been left without a father, yet Chamberlain shows not a shred of humility or introspection from this experience. I find it easy to believe as previous poster mentioned that he has continued this behavior. It’s how he’s conducted himself as a Yankee, publicly disdaining veterans on the team as well as the manager, Joe Girardi. I’ve watched the man, this father, and he is unteachable and unreachable. If he follows in his mother’s unfortunate footsteps, he has nowhere to go but down. Making it worse is the Yankee organization pampering and babying him. This is the last thing you do with a person like this. Many people with his obvious mental and emotional problems never become successful. He is cancer for this team. The front office apparently forgot it was 13 consecutive years in the post season that sold all those seats not some very troubled jerk who hogs the camera every chance he gets.

    20. Raf
      July 12th, 2009 | 10:06 am

      Interesting take. Not that I agree with it, but an interesting take

    21. July 13th, 2009 | 7:21 am

      [...] Chien-Ming Wang on the disabled list (for an unknown period) and Joba Chamberlain having issues performing under the requirements of taking a regular turn in the Yankees rotation, today’s wild thought suggests it’s time for Brian Cashman and [...]

    22. July 19th, 2009 | 8:06 pm

      [...] Chamberlain had a little something extra today – then again, he wasn’t being asked to pitch on normal (4 days) rest for this [...]

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