Perrotto: Joba’s shoulder preventing bullpen move anyway

2009 Draft: NoMaas interviews Damon Oppenheimer
AL East Roundup - 5/25/09 trough 5/31/09

Buried in the “Rumors and Rumblings” section at the bottom of John Perrotto’s weekend roundup column on Baseball Prospectus was an intriguing note about Joba Chamberlain. “The Yankees couldn’t move right-hander Joba Chamberlain from the rotation back to the bullpen if they wanted to at this time, because shoulder problems make it too difficult for him to warm up quickly.”

Bullpen considerations aside, I have to wonder about the veracity of this rumor. If Joba had a known shoulder problem, the Yankees would not be trotting him out there every five days. They care too much about and are too focus on Joba’s future to risk his health in the short term. A shoulder problem, however, would explain the downward trend in fastball velocity Joba has been displaying since his August 2008 injury.

One of the logical fallacies of the B-Jobber argument is that Joba could go from throwing 91 mile-per-hour fastballs, as he was last week in Texas, to throwing 98 out of the pen. That simply isn’t true, and right now, this rumor puts into print something many fans have been wondering about Joba. For now, it is simply a rumor, but we’ll keep our eyes on it.

2009 Draft: NoMaas interviews Damon Oppenheimer
AL East Roundup - 5/25/09 trough 5/31/09
  • Blackdragon905

    On one hand, it’s a relief to know why he hasn’t had good velocity if this is true. But on the other hand, this is very alarming news if true.

  • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

    In a few minutes, Mike Francessa will say this:

    “You don’t un-duh-stand. Jobber is a reliever. He dominates in the eighth inning. Thuh reason he’s hurt is because he’s not built to be a starter. If they just move him to thuh 8th inning, all his injury problems would be solved. And thuh bullpen problems would be solved. You know he’s coming in in thuh eighth. Just get him up warming up in thuh sixth!”

    Followed by every Yankee fan with the slightest understanding of baseball reaching for their radios/TVs in record time.

  • CB

    It’s usually Will Carroll rather than Perotto over at BP who has this kind of information related to injuries. Carrol for instance had the leak that Nady was going to have the platelet injection in his elbow.

    Hard to know the context of the statement. Is it just taking him extra long to loosen up (perhaps that’s why he’s had the first inning problems?) Is there residual stiffness?

    Outside of the velocity myth, people who want Joba to go the pen somehow assume that going to the pen will be better for his health. That last year’s case of tendinitis “proved” he can’t make it as a starter and be the same pitcher.

    There’s no evidence that I know of that indicates that being a reliever reduces the risk of shoulder injuries.

  • CountryClub

    It would make sense since his velocity tends to rise during games. Or, as Girardi said on the Fan last week, it could all be about mechanics. When he’s using good mechanics he throws mid 90’s. When he’s not, he throws low 90’s. Only time will tell I guess.

  • Frank

    Don’t know if this is true, but if it is, it might not be a total surprise. Joba’s delivery has been critcized by Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac (MLB Network) and Orel Hershizer (ESPN) as lacking leg drive and follow through. Essentially, his landing leg is viewed as being too stiff and he seems to be throwing more with his upper body and less with his legs. This will inevitably lead to shoulder problems.

    • Zack

      Didn’t a whole bunch of people talk about Verlander last year and how his shoulder must have damage because of the arm slot change and velocity? And look at him this year.

      Just because ex-players are hired doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Bullpen considerations aside, I have to wonder about the veracity of this rumor. If Joba had a known shoulder problem, the Yankees would not be trotting him out there every five days.

    That’s not necessarily what Perrotto is saying. I don’t read that quote to say that Joba has “a known shoulder problem”. I read it to say Joba has shoulder problems which preclude him from warming up quickly.

    It doesn’t mean that there’s per se some sort of shoulder injury that Joba currently has and that the team is ignoring, it means that Joba’s shoulder isn’t appropriately conditioned to warm up quickly in the manner that most relief pitcher’s shoulders are, that his shoulder is sound but he requires a more deliberate, methodical warm-up routine of a typical starter.

    So, it could be true that Joba’s not hurt but that Joba’s arm isn’t capable of being a reliever (without exposing his arm to increased risk of injury). Just a few threads ago, we mentioned Al Aceves and Ramiro Mendoza and the desirable quality of a reliever having a “rubber arm”. I think Perrotto may be saying Joba’s arm, while healthy, just can’t stand the stress and workload of being a relief pitcher because he doesn’t have that “rubber arm” capability.


    • mtt

      Yeah, this reminds a lot of what I was reading about the Rays’ Jeff Niemann back at the beginning of the season. He had a history of shoulder problems that prevented him from warming up quickly, though he was able to start. This discussion came up in his case because he was out of options and there was some questions about whether he was quite ready to be a starter but he Rays couldn’t just stash him in the bullpen.
      I can’t find my source right now, but if I do I’ll send it along.

  • Zack

    Here’s my question: What was Joba’s velocity as a starter when he was in the minors before he came up? Was it 97mph from inning 1-7? or around 93 the whole game?

    • anonymous

      He was touching 100mph while starting last year. But he threw his shoulder out. This could all be intentional.

    • JT

      93-97 mph @ Trenton, which is exactly what he was 3 starts ago on gameday before he got hit in the knee.

      • Zack


    • MikeD

      Zack, I remember Keith Law at ESPN, when scouting Joba in AA, noted that Joba was still throwing 96+ (and that’s on a legit radar gun, not stadium scoreboard ones) in the 7th inning, meaning he was maintaining velocity. It’s why he was so highly rated.

      The FanGraphs show Joba’s average fastball velocity last year as a starter at 95. He has not been able to do that with any consistency since he returned from the August injury. Here’s the real issue, though. He lacks consistent command of his fastball, and he’s taking longer to warm up. This is NOT the same picther, starter or reliever, the Yankees had from August 2007 to August 2008. Either he’s injured, or he’s lost something off his fastball, or he has an issue with his mechanics. I’m hoping it’s the last option!

      • Zack

        Joba was also only averaging 5 innings per start in AA, and was probably just a ‘thrower.’ Now he needs to go 6-7innings so it’s a different mentality.

  • thebusiness

    I think the more important thing to note is that they changed his Mechanics in spring and he’s still getting used to them… instead of blind speculation about an injury.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      They did? You have a link/proof about that one? I don’t recall seeing a story about it.

      • Kilgore Trout

        I just looked and couldn’t find anything. I do remember Eiland and Girardi talk about how they changed his mechanics after he hurt his shoulder last year though.

      • MikeD

        Benjamin, I also remember this story, but I don’t know if I read it, or heard it while Girardi was being interviewed on TV. I do remember thinking, “don’t mess with a good thing.” It was during Spring Training when people were first concerned about Joba’s velocity.

      • Tony
      • thebusiness

        Yes, mainly working on his follow through/finish. And if you watch his delivery now, that’s what it looks like he’s concerned with. I’m not going to look it up right now but I know I saw it. Joba also hit 96 early on in Spring, I think against the Phillies. I don’t think there is anything wrong with his shoulder, it’s his delivery.

  • Some call me…tim

    Duck it.

    15 day DL. We’ve got parts and pieces right now that we may not have again this year.

    Give him two weeks at Nardi State University, two weeks off, two weeks in the gym.

    THEN DL Philly right behind him :)

    Innings limit with a twist!

    • Benjamin Kabak

      You actually do need a doctor-verified injury to go on the DL, and after the publicity surrounding Wang earlier this year, the Yanks can’t just stash players on the DL.

    • thebusiness

      They don’t need to DL Joba or Phil, they can just send them to Scranton.

      • Bo

        If he needed the DL they wouldn’t be pitching him every 5 days.

        • Some call me…tim

          Ben-I think I was being mostly sarcastic about doctors on team payroll bring willing to attest to ‘weak arm’ ‘weak hip’ and ‘weak sense if self’ as DL’able injuries, although a 15 day doesn’t really matter to Joba since it wouldn’t affect his options or the 40.
          Thebuz-Phil yes, Joba no, no point in burning his option so early in the year over something as silly as two skipped starts.

          • jsbrendog


            this amused me

  • Jeremy Russell

    Coming out of the bullpen throwing 98? He used to throw 100-101.

    • Zack

      he would touch 100-101, not sit there

  • Bo

    Girardi mentions mechanics everytime hes asked about the dip in velocity. Hopefully thats it and not the shoulder not coming back from the injury.

  • yankee1977

    I find this really funny. Its like the Joba to the pen people are praying that the guy gets hurt to prove that he is not built for the rotation. What a joke. I got new for you. If Joba gets hurt at some point of the season he will still return as a starter just like every freakin starter that gets hurt. First of all.. Joba has been a starter his whole life and had dominated as a starter. He has throughout his whole career thrown in the high 90’s deep into games like he has demonstrated last year as a starter. After his injury last year his velocity has not been the same even after he finished the season in the pen. Just give Joba every chance to develop and mature into his craft in the rotation. He will get stronger and start throwing harder more consistantly. Think Justin Veerlander, everyone was thinking that the guy was hurt last year because his velocity was way down. Look at Veerlander today with no off season surgeries and the guy is dominating this year. Joba was drafted as a starter. He has been a starter his whole career except being introduced into the majors. Remember the only reason he is in the pen in the first place is because had already maxed out on his innings limit. Joba has 4 plus pitches. You cannont compare the stuff he has compared to Pappelbon. Also Pappelbon has asked Boston to be the reliever because he can’t hack starting. Joba want to be a starter. This should be the end of discussion. How would you like it if, in your job you want to do a certain job and have the talent to be great at it but only told you should stick with a particular limited role.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Will Leitch has a good article in NY mag about the Yankees. He says “Chamberlain back to the pen? It’s not happening; it shouldn’t happen; please, please shut up.”

    Thank you Will.

  • touchtoneterriost

    Whybis everybody here keep talking about Mike Francesa and other journalist badly but why don’t they trash Jorge Posada who said “Joba should be a closer” and “Is a reliver keep him there”.

    But What does Jorge know he just catches Joba.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      “He’s our fifth starter and I’m happy with that,” Posada said. “He was so good out of the pen (in 2007) and I hadn’t seen him as a starter. He’s been showing me and he’s proving me wrong.”

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  • Anonymous

    From what I have been able to gather from various sources, Joba may have a similar chronic shoulder capsule problem as was first diagnosed in Wang back in 2005. Although Wang’s 2008 foot injury may have exacerbated the condition to some degree, it was not a recent primary cause of it. Unfortunately, that type surgery in a pitcher does not have a very good rate of success. So now the Yankees are attempting to nurse Joba along to possibly avoid a need for surgery at least in the near future.

  • Andy Dewhurst

    Don’t make excuse for Joba! He does enough of that himself. He is not the same pitcher who came into the 8th inning in 2007 with a 97 – 100 MPH fastball and blew batter away. His fastball is now only 93 MPH and he has very little confidence in it because it gets hit hard and often. He is constantly arguing with the Yankee catchers because all he wants to throw is off speed stuff because the fastball is nothing special and gets hit all over the park. The sad fact is Joba lazy and likes to party too much. He is his own worst enemy. He appears to have the Gooden / Strawberry disease– too much party not enough work. Joba is too young to rule out a comeback but all the signs are present – lazy, out of shape, poor performance, and bad attitude. Yea, he was a fan favorite and ruled the Bronx 2 years ago but now is a disappointment to the Yankees, his fans and the rest of baseball.

    What the happened to Joba’s 100 MHP fastball. The Yanks have installed the Joba rules 2 years ago to protect his arm and he still stinks! I rather give Kennedy another chance than give the ball to Joba and have to witness another half hearted effort. Joba is an under achieving, overrated, under worked cry baby who cannot get batter out!

    Joba can get anybody out! He has an avg 90 MPH fastball. I don’t care where you put him, bullpen or starter, he stinks right now, no control – too many walks, poor attitude –too many excuses, lazy, weak fastball. He pitching is a liability right now not an asset. Joba will most likely blew-up again and not make the post season roster.
    Requesting pitching coach Dave Duncan to help Joba is ridicules! What makes Joba so special that the Yankees have to import a special pitching coach just for him? You are advocating for another type of Joba rules – special rules just for him? Quit kissing his back side and sent him to the minors where he belongs!

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