A stroll down Joba Lane: Starts 6 through 10

Staten Island jacks their way to a win
The worst .400+ OBP seasons

Yesterday we took a gander at Joba Chamberlain’s first five starts. The idea is to take look at his control (though not necessarily his command), pitch breakdown, and velocity to see if we can find any trends. Yesterday’s installment didn’t yield much (tough to do so with five starts) beyond the obvious. Throw hard, throw strikes, mix your pitches. Let’s see how well Joba did that in starts six through 10.

May 10 @ Baltimore

Synopsis: Joba gives up a first-inning three-run bomb to Aubrey Huff, who fist pumps on his way around the bases. People freak out for no reason. Joba finishes six innings, though he allows 11 baserunners. The Yanks pulled ahead in the top of the seventh to hand Joba the win.

Pitches – Strikes: 104 – 64 (62%)

Breakdown: 65 fastballs, 22 sliders, 10 curves, 5 changes

Average and Max FB: 93.4, 97

Notes: Better strike percentage, decent mixture of pitches, though he’s still heavily favoring fastball-slider, and good velocity. His fastball went for strikes 58.5 percent of the time, which isn’t great but is doable. He also threw his curve for strikes 60 percent of the time, and slider 68 percent. First inning aside, this was a pretty good start. It is, however, when they started having him throw a simulated first inning before games.

May 16 Minnesota

Synopsis: Another strong six inning for Joba, but not without flaw. He walks four and gives up a home run. Still, he allowed just two earned runs in that span, which should have been enough for a win. The bullpen blew it for him, but the Yankees won in extras on a walk-off homer by A-Rod.

Pitches – Strikes: 108 – 66 (61%)

Breakdown: 65 fastballs, 16 curves, 14 sliders, 11 changes, 2 two-seamers

Average and Max FB: 93.4, 97.1

Notes: Again, everything looked good in this start except the walks. He still threw his fastball for a strike 60 percent of the time, combined with 69 percent on the curve and 71 percent on the slider. His change was at 54.5 percent. This start looks a bit more like the Boston start. Joba mixed his pitches well, threw a decent number of strikes, and had a six-inning, two-run performance.

May 21 Baltimore

Synopsis: Adam Jones comebacker hits Joba in the knee. He faces two more batters and surrenders two more singles. Girardi removes him from the game.

The breakdown here is worthless, but Joba’s average fastball was about 92.

May 26 @ Texas

Synopsis: Again Joba has a rough first inning. He walks four guys through four innings, using up 84 pitches in that span. The five strikeouts are nice, but do not compensate for the three runs allowed. Anyone remember why, other than his wildness, Joba didn’t come out for the fifth? It was only a 3-1 game at that point.

Pitches – Strikes: 84 – 46 (55%)

Breakdown: 53 fastballs, 13 sliders, 9 curves, 9 changes

Average and Max FB: 90.4, 93.3

Notes: So maybe Joba came out because Girardi noticed something wrong. His fastball was not only its slowest of the season, but he also threw it for a strike just 47 percent of the time. That will not get the job done. He threw his slider and change for strikes around 75 percent each, but failed to throw the curve for strikes. It was a decent mix of pitches, but when you don’t throw strikes, it’s going to hurt you.

June 1 @ Cleveland

Synopsis: After a clunker in Texas, Joba comes out guns blazing. He’s efficient, effective, and overall awesome as he holds down the Indians. Bonus points for the flying leap double play.

Pitches – Strikes: 106 – 66 (62%)

Breakdown: 65 fastballs, 21 sliders, 14 curves, 4 changes

Average and Max FB: 93.9, 97.6

Notes: Velocity? Check. Mixing pitches? Check. Throwing strikes? Decent: 57 percent with the fastball, ditto the curve. The 85.7 percent strike rate with the slider makes it seem like there were tons of swings and misses. That’s the idea, though. The fastball and curve set ’em up, the slider knocks ’em down. His slider also averaged around 85 this game, a tick higher than I’d noticed it in his previous starts.

Again, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the issue: throw strikes. Joba dropping his velocity from 95 last year to 93, 94 this year doesn’t seem to be as big an issue as his ability to throw strikes with it.

The one thing we’re not seeing here, and something I’d delve further into if I could in an expeditious manner, is his performance in these starts when he has two strikes on a batter. How many more does he throw with two strikes? To the eye it would seem a lot, especially lately. Without looking, I ‘m willing to bet that it plays right along with our Joba mantra of throw hard, throw strikes, mix pitches.

Next up are starts 11 through 15. Those probably won’t be too pretty, but they’ll be nicer than his last two, which we’ll touch on Friday.

Staten Island jacks their way to a win
The worst .400+ OBP seasons
  • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    Does he still throw a simulated 1st inning?

  • Salty Buggah

    I LOVE that Cleveland start. Anything close to that in the 2nd half would be nice.

    • Cano wears the GIDP crown.

      I LOVE that Cleveland start. Anything close to that in the 2nd half would be nice.

      He would need a radioactive spider to bite him.

      Midges, they only kiss passionately.

      Don’t ask me how I know.

  • Spaceman.Spiff

    It’s kinda weird that Joba seems to have his fastball velocity and accuracy on the same days which seems to indicate it may be a lack of consistent mechanics that’s plaguing him this year.

  • Ant

    Could we possibly be seeing what happened to Justin Verlander last year?

    Also you said that Joba’s become a two pitch pitcher this year, according to Fangraphs he’s actually throwing less fastballs and sliders.
    2008:65.3 25.2 7.8 1.7
    2009:64.2 22.8 8.1 4.9

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime


    • Jd3010

      I said that in the last Joba post and i wrote Verlanders velocitys over this year and last and the velocity drop is very similar to the Joba drop that is caused problably because hes not 100% from last years injury that happened to Verlander after his heavy workload from such a young age.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      I’ve brought up the Justin Verlander comp before – suffered a velocity loss, had a bad season, velocity rebounded this year. If Joba’s velocity can also rebound – and if his problem is mechanical, but not physical, that’s not entirely out of the question – then I think we’ll see the fledging ace again.

      Otherwise…the Yankees will still (probably) have a pretty good pitcher on their hands. Maybe not that surefire ace, but not many teams can boast more than one pitcher with ace-like stuff fin their rotation, let alone more than one pitcher who is a legitimate ace. And the Yankees could still field three aces within the next three years in Sabathia, Burnett, and Hughes, even leaving aside Chamberlain.

    • Mac

      87% of the time this year Joba throws a FB or slider vs. 90.5% last year – I think the difference is pretty insignificant and he’s still (right now) a two pitch pitcher.

      I’d like to know how many of the curves and change ups were strikes.

  • Salty Buggah

    Surprisingly, Joba (8) has almost as many quality starts as CC (9).

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      Says more about CC than it does about Joba…

      • K.B.D.

        Says more about the relative uselessness of the “quality start” stat.

        • Mac

          True about the dubious nature of QS, I do like it as a rough first look at what a guy is doing.

          All 9 of CC’s QS were 7 ip+, he also missed a few with 4 runs allowed that were 7-8 ip.

          5 of Joba’s were 6 ip.

          Right now, both Hughes and Joba are two pitch pitchers – which to me, if the Yanks are trying to get and go deep into the playoffs, they both belong in the pen.

          If the Yanks are serious about developing both as starters – get their innings up this year from the pen and next year leave them in the rotation (somewhere) all season.

          Still think something is wrong mentally or physically with Joba, Hughes looks great – and quite frankly, unless he develops a third pitch effectively and keeps some of that increased velocity in movement that he has out of the pen, Hughes looks more like a Joe Nathan than a front of the rotation guy.

          JMHO, have at it.

          • Pasqua

            Ant’s breakdown above would suggest that Joba is not at all a 2-pitch pitcher. And, for what it’s worth, this is actually one of the reasons I would cite for his struggles as a starter…he is, in a lot of ways, learning to pitch and hone his arsenal of stuff.

            • Mac

              Can’t agree – he’s relying on the FB and slider 87% of the time and he’s not going deep into games – the guy he is now, he should be in AAA trying to figure out how to become a starter.

      • Salty Buggah

        Yea true…we definitely need CC to be a bit better in the 2nd half

        • Bo

          Please don’t compare him to CC.

          CC gets to the 7th in every single start. Joba has sniffed the 7th in his dreams.

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    Regardless of this year’s events. We will see the dominant Joba we know and love next year! I hope….

  • Brian

    I have to say that you guys are working your arses off despite no NYY baseball. Amazing job.

  • Harry G

    Ok, I never could figure this out myself so i’m gonna ask it here. What exactly is the difference between a pitcher’s “command” and “control”? Can anybody please explain this to me, and in detail… Thanks a lot…

    • Johan Iz My Brohan

      A pitcher with…

      good control is able to throw strikes consistently

      good command is able to locate their pitches in certain sections of the strike zone.

      A pitcher can have good control, yet have bad command, they would be able to throw strikes, but they wouldn’t be able to pitch in spots strategically where the batter may or may not be able to hit the ball.

      When you hear something like “Joba is nitpicking the strike zone” this means he is being too careful with his command trying to spot the pitch somewhere to his liking.

  • Little Bill

    Joba is going to be fine. He’s going to have a lot more starts like that one in Cleveland in the 2nd half.

    • Mac

      Great to be optimistic, reality is, he hasn’t shown why anyone would feel that way, other than being, well, optimistic.

  • Bo

    I wonder what it will take for people to realize he should be where he belongs. In the pen. How many more 4 inning starts will you have to endure before that happens? Just because someone has 4 pitches doesn’t mean his future is as a starter you know.

    There has been enough of a sample size now to know that we have seen two different pitchers. One pure dominating and one below league average.

    You know the Sox always talked about putting Papelbon in the rotation. He has multiple pitches too and a minor league track record as a starter. I think they made the right call there. The Yanks got an out cos they can say hes near his innings limit and put him back in the place where he has been really successful.

    • donttradecano

      For the 1,000th time, the Papelbon comparison is the worst possible comparison you could use to justify your argument. Papelbon was a CLOSER in college, and the Red Sox attempted to make him a starter. Why you ask? Because starting pitching is more valuble, and if it wasnt for them having no closers at the time, Papelbon probably would be a starter.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        It’s Bo. More likely than not he’s a Red Sox fan.

    • Observer283

      Roy Halladay’s ERA in his age 23 season was over 10 in 19 Games and 13 starts. Dan Haren’s ERA was around 5 in his age 23 season. Maddux sucked at the beginning of his career and so did Glavine. I bet the Mets wish they had traded Nolan Ryan when he struggled with consistency early in his career.

      One half of a season pitching to a 4 something ERA is not enough of a sample size to say that a 23 year old pitcher who was a blue chip prospect and has flashed signs of greatness at the major league level as a starter cannot be a good to great starter.

      There has simply not been enough of a sample size to make any definitive judgments about the 23 year old Joba Chaimberlain.

      • Observer283

        Should be “I bet the Mets wish they had NOT traded NOlan Ryan when he struggled with consistency early in his career.”

      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        Excellent response.

        I would add that Joba’s numbers as a starter last year compare favorably to his relief numbers. The real split with Joba isn’t starting v. relieving. It’s pre-shoulder injury last year v. post-shoulder injury last year.

  • FLYanksFan

    Good point about the shoulder injury. It often happens that, even though an injury heals, the player is never quite the same as he was before it happened, especially a pitcher and especially if it has to do with shoulder or arm problems.

    As this breakdown shows, Joba has shown real ability at times, lights out stuff. Striking out 12 league leading Red Sox batters isn’t something most rookie pitchers accomplish, even if it was after giving up four runs.

    As for C. C., check the stats, he’s at almost exactly the same ERA now as he was in the first half of last year in Cleveland before getting traded to Milwaukee. Don’t let his sub 2.00 ERA in the NL fool you…he’s not a 1.65 ERA pitcher. His lifetime average is 3.67, so he’s slightly over that right now. As we’ve seen over the years, good pitchers sometimes take a year to acclimate themselves to the Yankees. If we get 15 wins and under 3.75 ERA from C. C. this year, I’ll be happy. He was the best of the crop of starters last year, but he’s no Johan Santana or Doc Halladay.

  • Joanne

    I say – if Blue Jays want Joba – go for it – get Halladay – not only has Joba lost it – his attitude sucks!!!

    • UWS


  • Eric

    I know that Joba will shake off the catchers call often. Maybe he should shut his brain off a bit more and just throw the D*#m ball! let the catchers make the decision. He is too young to be calling his own games.

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