So who’s the first reporter seduced by 1.2 innings of ALDS work? Why, it’s Jon Heyman of course. In his latest Daily Scoop post, Heyman drops the following tidbit:
There is growing sentiment around baseball that Joba Chamberlain will be a reliever next year, especially after he looked great in that role in the Division Series.
Now, the skeptic in me says that this “growing sentiment around baseball” is none other than Heyman himself. He has long been an outspoken B-Jobber, firm in his belief that young Mr. Chamberlain is better suited for the bullpen than the starting rotation. The truth of the matter is that Jon Heyman’s opinion just doesn’t matter.
Let’s, though, assume that Heyman is telling the truth. Let’s assume that some anonymous people around baseball think that Joba will be a reliever next year. The truth remains that, well, their opinions just don’t count. Unless that sentiment comes from Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees are committed to Joba the Starter, and no amount of media blustering can change that fact.
We can’t ignore the fact that Joba as a reliever is a tempting proposition. At the very least, he’s comfortable coming out of the pen and, despite early-season reports concerning his shoulder, he had no problems warming up to come on as a reliever during the ALDS match-up against the Twins. The real question though surrounds his stuff. How did he play as a reliever?
In terms of results, Joba mostly got the job done. He threw 1.2 innings over three games and allowed two hits and no runs. After struggling with the base on balls during the regular season, he walked none but struck out only one. His one hiccup came during Game 3. With out in the sixth and the Yanks clinging to a 2-1 lead, he came in and gave up a double to Delmon Young. At the time, I was surprised Girardi would go with Joba instead of Aceves or Coke, his usual 7th inning guys, but Joba got the next two outs to escape the inning unscathed.
On the stuff side of his apperances, Joba’s fastball and command were better than the regular season. In Game 1, he hovered around 94, but in Games 2 and 3, he nearly hit 97 with his fastball. He slider was around 89, and his one postseason curveball was at 82. So yes, Joba flashed the velocity and the breaking pitches.
But the truth remains that good starters make good relievers. Joba Chamberlain, despite his second half struggles, was not a terrible Major League Baseball starter. He threw 157.1 innings and didn’t get hurt. The only start he missed, in fact, was when the Yanks made him skip an outing. He’ll be in the rotation again, and for now, Jon Heyman’s desires aside, he will be a starting pitcher.