Following a stellar eight-inning appearance in Cleveland on June 1, Joba Chamberlain seemed to be on the verge of a run. He had allowed just four hits and two walks while winning his third decision of the year. His ERA sat at 3.71, and he had reached the 8th for the first time this year.
The run he went on was not the one we expected. Since then, Joba has thrown 35.2 innings, and he has been awful. He has allowed 27 runs — just 20 earned — while giving up 47 hits and 15 runs. That’s a WHIP of 1.74 and an ERA of 5.05. Opponents are hitting nearly .300/.400/.450 during this stretch. It’s ugly.
As I’ve said a few times, I don’t know what’s wrong. Joba has no approach on the mound. He has no pattern; he has not rhythm; and he has no velocity. His stuff — once electric even as as starting pitcher — is simply average. His breaking pitches have less bite than they once did, and his fastball isn’t even all that fast.
Joba doesn’t seem to have a clue about it. “I made great pitches throughout,” he said after the game, seemingly in denial. I can’t even begin to guess what that was all about.
A good number of Yankee fans feel that the bullpen will magically restore Joba to the pitcher we saw in 2007 and 2008. That, though, just won’t happen. The Yankees will be left with another ineffective reliever who can’t locate his pitches and can’t find an out pitch when things, as they did in the 5th inning last night, start to go bad.
The bullpen may have been the worst thing to happen to Joba. Where the Yanks go from here with the once-heralded phenom struggling as a 23-year-old in the Majors will be both telling and vital to the team’s future.