Dissecting Joba’s starting debutBy
So that didn’t quite go as planned tonight, eh?
Joba Chamberlain, on a strict 65-pitch limit during his first Major League start, couldn’t last through the third inning today, and while Dan Giese held the Blue Jays to one run over 3.2 innings, a quick hook by Girardi and a subsequent bullpen meltdown led to the Yanks’ third straight loss. And, oh, yeah, they’re back in last place.
We’ll start with Joba because outside of Joba, there isn’t much to say about this game. Joba was not as good as we hoped and not as bad as his short outing makes him out to be. In 2.1 innings, he allowed one hit and one earned run while striking out three. The bigger concern tonight were his walks. He allowed an un-Joba-like four walks in this short outing.
Some Yankees fan on this site accused Joba of nibbling a la Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy earlier this year. Chris accused Joba of trying to make the perfect two-strike pitch. As I noted then, that simply wasn’t the case tonight. Rather, Joba couldn’t put his pitches where he wanted to put them, and when he did, he wasn’t getting the benefit of the strike from Ed Hickox. Admittedly, Hickox’s zone was small for both teams, but that’s baseball.
Who knows to what Joba’s struggles can be attributed tonight? While Harlan Chamberlain told Kim Jones that Joba wouldn’t show his nerves on the outside, it seemed clear that he was a bit amped up for this start. He was overthrowing in that long first inning and just didn’t have a feel for his stuff. He settled down in the second, but by the time the third inning rolled around, he had reached his pitch count. It’s encouraging seeing him maintaining a K/9 IP rate of better than 11 in his short outing, and I expect him be calmer and more on target on Sunday.
With Joba out of the game, the Yanks had to fashion a lengthy bullpen outing. This would give Joe Girardi a small opportunity to see if some other relievers could get outs. The answer, we know now, was that they could not. Girardi inexplicably yanked Dan Giese, a starter after 65 good pitches, and the rest of the bullpen was one disaster after another until Chris Britton pitched. Hmmmm.
In the end, it was more of what we know and hate from the 2008 Yankees. The bullpen couldn’t get outs, and the offense was inconsistent. Bobby Abreu, A-Rod and Robbie Cano combined to strand 15 runners, and Cano looks utterly lost at the plate. Jose Molina had a game that will have Yankee officials strongly considering Chad Moeller as the next backup catcher when Jorge Posada rejoins the team later this week, and the Yanks remain 0-for-June.
During the game, Michael Kay was really laying into Robinson Cano. “The Yankees have to be worried,” he over-stressed. “Cano’s really struggling.” Kay, as he often does, went on and on about Cano’s struggles.
Now, we know Cano is struggling, and we know he’s swinging at everything. But here’s the reality: At this point last year, Cano’s batting average was .050 higher than it is now, and the second baseman had just 12 hits more than he did now in the same number of at bats. 12! That’s hardly anything.
As Mike said to me tonight, the difference between a .275 hitter and a .300 hitter on the season is one hit every other week. For Cano, all this means is that when it all clicks and he breaks out of this slump, we’ll forget Michael Kay’s overreactions and all of our concerns. That said, he has to start zoning pitchers. Swinging at everything just will not do.