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.