What Went Wrong: The Joba Rules

Drilling down on Roy Halladay
The case for CC Sabathia as SI's Sportsman of the Year

Over the next week or so, we’ll again break down what went wrong and what went right for the 2009 Yankees. The series this year will be much more enjoyable than the last.

"Hey look, a penny."

The Yankees added two new and exciting members to their rotation in the offseason, but many fans (myself certainly included) were most excited to see what the young Joba Chamberlain could do in his first full year as a starter. Things started out well, as the young Nebraskan posted a pretty 3.71 ERA with a tolerable 4.51 FIP in his first ten starts, striking out 51 batters in 53.1 IP. For a 23-year-old starter in the unforgiving AL East, Joba’s performance was more than acceptable up to that point. Unfortunately, things soon went downhill after that.

In Joba’s next seven starts, opponents tagged him for a .311-.385-.477 batting line (basically what Victor Martinez hit this year) that resulted in a 5.05 ERA and 62 baserunners in just 35.2 IP. Even worse were the high pitch counts Joba was running up, forcing him from games early and taxing the bullpen. Joba went into the All Star break with a solid 4.25 ERA, though he was averaging barely five innings per start.

After an eight day breather, Joba returned from the break like a man possessed. He completely shut down the Tigers, A’s, and Rays in his first three starts back, allowing just two runs and 16 baserunners in 21.2 IP. He won all three starts and held opponents to a .422 OPS against. Alas, the success did not last long, as Joba started to head into uncharted territory in terms of innings pitched.

Already at 110.2 IP on the season (his previous career high was the 118.2 IP he threw as a sophomore in college), Joba surrendered 19 runs in his next 20 IP (four starts). At this point, the Yanks applied the breaks, as Joba was limited to short, 3-4 inning starts for the next month or so to control those innings. He had a 6.75 ERA with a 5.45 FIP the rest of the way, finishing the season with 157.1 IP, the most he’d ever thrown in his life.

In one sense, The Joba Rules were wildly successful in that they kept the righthander healthy all year. However, at the end of the season Joba looked as if he didn’t know if he was coming or going, basically like a deer in the headlights. His performance suffered, resulting in many high stress situations that won’t show up in an innings total. Joba’s 2,730 pitches thrown were the 29th most in the AL, more than fellow youngster Rick Porcello even though he had thrown 12.2 fewer innings than the Tigers’ rookie.

The fact of the matter is that the Yankees made their bed when it comes to Joba and his innings limitations, and now they have to sleep in it. He was rushed to the big leagues in 2007 because he was admittedly fantastic in the minors, but mostly because the team needed help in the bullpen. Joba never had a chance to properly stretch out in games that don’t matter, and instead he was forced to learn on the job more than pitchers should have to. Give the Yankees credit for trying to be creative, but it’s painfully obvious at this point that the idea of cutting starts short and whatnot are not the best way to control innings.

The good news that Joba won’t have a significant innings limit in 2010, and hopefully the braintrust has learned from this experience and will develop a better plan to bring it’s young pitchers along, especially with Phil Hughes ready to join the rotation next year. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just keep it simple. Bite the bullet and have the kid sit and rest for two or three weeks mid-season. The less change to a pitcher’s routine, the better.

Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images

Drilling down on Roy Halladay
The case for CC Sabathia as SI's Sportsman of the Year
  • Bo

    The Joba Rules were great. It made him into what he should be in the postseason.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose
      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        The Joba Rules were actually necessary and I like that the Yankees want to take care of their pitchers long term…but I also liked the picture…so I added it lol

    • whozat

      The Joba Rules were great. It made him into what he should be in the postseason. kept him healthy all season, and gave him valuable experience that he can use as he continues to develop into major-league starter.

      Fixed that for you.

    • http://riveraveblues.com/2009/11/open-thread-you-have-the-red-sox-19930/ the artist formerly known as (sic)

      why am i not surprised that Bo is a bjobber.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Always has been.

  • Mike HC

    I thought it was kind of a neutral year for Joba and the Joba rules. Like the post said, he was healthy all year, but also extremely inconsistent. If Joba develops nicely next year, then this year will be considered a success. If next year does not go well for him, then last year will be lumped in with next year and it will all be considered failure.

    No more excuses for Joba next year. It is put up or shut up time for him.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      Agreed. I don’t think we’ll see constant dominance…but we’ll see shades of it. We’ll see basically what we saw this year…with hopefully the percentage of positive starts going up and the negative going down. There will sure be a few negative ones though. And they might be strung together which could get some fans prematurely jumping the gun like usual…but it is what it is.

      I see him throwing around 170-180 innings with a 4.50 ERA.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        He’ll probably be better than a 4.50 ERA. He was a better pitcher than that during the first 4 months of the season when he wasn’t pitching fatigued.

        • pete

          yeah, but he’s bound to have a couple stinkers in there. My guess is his numbers next year look something like AJ this year, only with fewer innings. I’d be perfectly happy with those numbers. My Joba Predictor says 13-11/4.36 ERA/166K/182.1IP. 2011 is gonna be his real breakout year

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            His 3.96 ERA from April to July (the pre-fatigue period) included a few stinkers already. I think he’s capable of having a few stinkers and a few young pitcher roadbumps and still pitching to an ERA right around 4.00 or lower.

            • pete

              oh i completely agree. But he’s going to again surpass his innings total from last year, which was already a huge career high. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that there’s a solid chance he slows down at the end again. I don’t think it’ll be as significant as this year, but it’ll be there.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    I wouldn’t consider the rules a failure or something that went wrong. The rules weren’t meant to guarantee Chamberlain’s success, obviously nothing can do that, but rather to help assure his health and they definitely did that.

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    On the plus side

    1) Joba didn’t get hurt
    2) Joba proved that he can be a great starter by pitching a number of great games against quality lineups
    3) We won the WS so mission accomplished in spite of teh innings limitation and the problems towards the end
    4) Joba is not on an innings limit next year

    These are pretty huge all of them

    On the negative side?

    He needs to work on his conditioning and he needs to work on his ability to turn it up when needed.

    Conclusion – great no 4 starter with huge upside, more dubious as a no 3 starter next season.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I don’t think it’s about turning it up when he needs it, but rather just learning when to throw what pitch. He fell in love with his slider waaaaaay too easily this season before being able to establish his fastball.

      • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

        often his fb was just not there when he needed to turn it up

  • Chris

    it’s painfully obvious at this point that the idea of cutting starts short and whatnot are not the best way to control innings.

    I don’t believe that’s true at all. I don’t think there’s evidence that his struggles late in the season were related to his changing pattern of usage. He started to struggle before they gave him a long rest, and he also had great starts after the ASB when he started on long rest.

    • Todd

      I completely agree. Just because it didn’t work and he was inconsistent, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Yankees’ approach was wrong. I believe that it simply means that he needs to execute better, regardless if he is going 3-4 innings or 7 innings.

      • Kevin M.

        Word. Cause and effect RAB…cause and effect. I expect a bit better than the MSM drivel we got on how the “Joba rules” ruined him.

    • pete

      I agree. I think the extended rest messed with him a little bit, but cutting the starts short did not, and his arm was just too tired to get back in sync at the end of the year. That said, I do agree with Mike in that cutting starts short as a means of innings control is a poor approach (not as bad as changing the resting routine, but bad nonetheless). I think it’s a great idea to have your main starters take it easy the last couple starts before the playoffs as a means of gathering it all back, but I think one long extended rest + “rehab” start in minors is the best means of innings control.

  • Jersey

    “In one sense, The Joba Rules were wildly successful in that they kept the righthander healthy all year.”

    This is THE most important thing to me. Innings limits are fundamentally a health issue, not a performance issue, save for the fact that it’s easier for a guy to develop and improve his quality if he’s not hurt.

    Did the shorter starts hurt his performance and his development? I don’t think we can say for sure. He could just as easily have looked like a deer in headlights, and subsequently shat the bed, pitching six innings once a week, rather than three innings twice a week. For what it’s worth, he had a higher OPS-against when starting after 6+ days rest (5 starts, 27 innings) than when he started on 4 or 5 days rest, according to BR.

    • Thomas

      The problem with the “he stayed healthy” argument is that he still broke his previous high innings by nearly 50 (many high stress innings, too). Thus, he has a high chance to get injured next year. I don’t think we can conclude that Joba Rules were successful, just because he did not get injured this season.

      • Renny Baseball


        • Renny Baseball

          His staying healthy THIS season is not the measuring stick as much as NEXT year, that’s a key point in limiting the incremental increase of innings for an under-25-year-old pitcher, as Tom Verducci had documented in what is called the “Year After Effect.” This Verducci effect has been discussed at length in different threads here I am sure, and there are flaws raised as there being no control group etc, but it seems to have some value (while perhaps not the end-all) as an indicator or guidepost for managing innings at the cost or risking injury.


          Also, where there are innings limits, it would seem that the best way to manage them would be not to shut down the young pitcher in the middle of the season or during a September stretch run but to pace him by delaying the start of the season, with extended spring training, for example.

      • Jersey


  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    I didn’t mind the Joba Rules, but god did they get fucking ridiculous by the end of the year.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Agreed. We need a better plan for all such situations going forward.

      • Bo

        Thats a problem the organization would love to have every yr going forward.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No, it’s not.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Sometimes the best thing to do is to just keep it simple. Bite the bullet and have the kid sit and rest for two or three weeks mid-season. The less change to a pitcher’s routine, the better.

    That being the case, why shut him down for two to three weeks in the middle of the season if you want to keep his innings down? Why not do it in the beginning or the end of the season? I don’t see the logic of shutting a guy down and then starting him back up again. Shut him down either when he hits his limit (before the natural end of the season), or before he starts so that he hits his limit at the natural end of the season.

    Like you said, keep it simple. Delaying his season a month, or ending his season a month early, both of those are simpler (and smarter) than cutting his season into two seasons with a month in between them. That’s a recipe for rust, fatigue, interrupted rhythms, de-conditioning and re-conditioning.

    If we have a young starter on innings limits (and we’ll probably have more of those soon, i.e. Z-Mac/Nova/Kennedy/Chapman/etc.) than they should be shut down early (possibly by moving them to the pen at the end of any given season, which is a fine strategy, B-Jobbers notwithstanding) or they should be delayed at the start of the season and join their teams in May rather than in April.

    • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

      I agree with this. It’s hard to have a young pitcher peak, in my mind, if you are going to shut him down at the end of year.

      In retrospect, keeping him idle at the start of the year may have enabled Joba to put the pedal to the floor, rather than hit the brakes, in September.

      But truth be told, he stayed healthy and I won’t care about the Joba Rules if he has a monster 2010.

    • Ed

      Shut him down either when he hits his limit (before the natural end of the season)

      The main flaw with that plan is it’s hard to stick to that plan if you run out of replacement options, like what happened this year.

      or before he starts so that he hits his limit at the natural end of the season.

      And that leads to the problem that any injury greatly reduces of the odds of hitting the desired innings total (see Joba 2008). An early or mid-season shutdown approach increases the odds of still hitting the target.

      Delaying his season a month, or ending his season a month early, both of those are simpler (and smarter) than cutting his season into two seasons with a month in between them. That’s a recipe for rust, fatigue, interrupted rhythms, de-conditioning and re-conditioning.

      I do agree that those are concerns, but those things already happen regularly with top prospects. It’s the normal course of action for players who play winter ball. Joba’s previous career high in innings is actually the year he was drafted, when he pitched in college, had time off, then pitched in winter ball.

      Personally, I’d go for starting the season on time and then either moving to the bullpen or being completely shut down.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      Bingo. I’ve always thought the best time to do it is April. Have the pitcher join the rotation May 1st and be a full fledged member of the rotation the rest of the season. Regular routine, pitch every 5 days from that point on and still keep the innings down.

      To give someone 3 weeks off in July would mean building his arm back up again afterward, and breaking up his routine. It’s just a condensed version of the ill fated Joba Rules from this year.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matthewharris84 Matt :: Section 105

    Gotta try Joba out on a full-year w/o the ‘rules’.

    I really don’t see him as more than 4th starter, and I think he’ll be the #5 guy, cause I expect Hughes to have a good spring.

    • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

      I’m going bold here, but I see Joba becoming the clear #2 in the rotation by season’s end. I just have a good feeling that we’re all going to see how good he can be this year.

      • Mike HC

        The hope is that he will become the number two, assuming we don’t sign another starter this year. Although, I think everyone will be happy with having Pettitte, AJ, and Joba all on the same level though.

        • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

          Absolutely. I’m just hoping/predicting that Joba takes the next step.

          • http://www.twitter.com/matthewharris84 Matt :: Section 105

            Don’t get me wrong, I want Joba to succeed, but dam, you really think he’s got the kinda stuff that would surpass AJ?

            I don’t think he’ll ever be as good as AJ.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Well, nobody in baseball is as good as Good AJ. I think Joba can be better than the average of Good and Bad AJ, though.

              Think about it this way: 21-22-23 year old Joba was better than 21-22-23 year old AJ…

              • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

                Basically what I’m trying to say. Of course when AJ is on…wow.

            • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

              Really? I think he can be better and more consistent. Remember that start back in 2008 against the Red Sox where he dueled Beckett?


              That’s what dreams are made of baby.

              • Joe

                gotta love the farnsworth cameo in there. third of an inning, 2 hits. thanks for comin out kyle.

              • Kevin M.

                That was pre-injury Joba. Not likely you’ll ever see THAT Joba again.

                He may K 10 in 7 shutout innings again, but not with a 97-100 mph fastball.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Command >>> control >>> location >>> movement >>> velocity

            • Thomas

              Here is what scouts said of Joba:

              His fastball and slider both grade out near the max on the 20-80 scouts scale

              I’d say that he has the stuff to be an AJ Burnett type based off two pitches. Additionally, Joba’s 4th pitch (whether you consider it his changeup or curve) is better than AJ’s fourth.

              Source: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/18846

  • vin

    If my memory (and b-r) serves correctly, his season went like this:

    1. solid, yet uneven first half.
    2. long break around the all-star game.
    3. pitched great in the 3 starts after the AS game.
    4. team announced plan to give him extra days off.
    5. pitched on extra rest twice in August, to poor results.
    6. team announced plan to pitch him every 5th day, but for 3-4 innings at a time.
    7. pitched like a sergio mitre during the “short” starts.
    8. got bombed in Seattle, which shot his ERA up from 4.39 to 4.72
    9. closed out the year with a solid start against Boston, and a poor start against KC
    10. moved to bullpen
    11. got hit hard during the playoffs, but generally managed to do his job.
    12. surpassed Hughes to help team win #27

    • Mike HC

      more like Hughes regressed past Joba, not Joba surpassing hughes.

      • vin

        I was trying to be optimistic, but you’re right.

        • Bo

          yea. he ended up where he should have started.

  • larryf

    Another question is-as a starter-can you succeed with 2 pitches? I am not convinced that Joba has 3 pitches. Maybe if we are up by alot he can throw a 3rd pitch to develop some confidence in it but he is a fastball/slider pitcher. That is the next step in his development. Unless you are Nolan Ryan-you need 3 pitches to go deep into games and be a successful starter…

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I think he’s got two good pitches—FB/SL—and two workable-could-get-better pitchers: his curve and his changeup. If I had to pick, I’d rather he develop the changeup more.

      • vin

        I recall him getting quite a few Ks on his changeup earlier in the season. Seemed like he went away from the pitch, in the middle of the season – especially with 2 strikes.


      • larryf

        agree with the changeup. I have mentioned this before that other teams seem to have better changeup pitchers than us. I am thinking of Cliff Lee/Hamels and Lackey/Weaver as examples. None of those guys have Joba fastball-stuff but they throw great changeups. Only CC and Aceves have good changeups on our staff and they both had them before they came to us. I would like to see Joba and Phil improve on this. 3rd time around a batting order-a 3rd pitch is needed unless your command/location of 2 pitches is exceptional which ain’t common for most pitchers…A great change can make a great hitter (see Tex/Swish) look helpless…

        • http://www.twitter.com/matthewharris84 Matt :: Section 105

          ‘Joba fastball stuff’ tops out at maaaaybe 93mph these days.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Lee, Hamels, Lackey, and Weaver all throw SLOWER fastballs than 93.

            I think people forget how fast 93 is sometimes.

            • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves


              I’ve hit against 93 in legion ball and college ball. It’s no walk in the park.

              In no way, or form am I suggesting that my hitting ability is comparable to professional hitters. However, I do know what 93 looks like.

              • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                Fastest I ever faced was 91 in Legion. Fouled it off a few times, then tipped it back into the catcher’s glove.

                • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

                  It’s such a rush. Next year (I’m at St. Mike’s in VT), we’re supposed to be getting back into the NE10, which is one of the better D2 baseball conferences. Hopefully I’ll get to see some more of that.

            • Bo

              Lee Halladay Weaver etc all have a lil something called wait for it…Command!

              They can spot 93 on the corner. Joba’s 91 down the middle isn’t so good.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                Lee, Halladay, and Weaver are all also over the age of 30. All three of those command pitchers struggled with their command when they were 24.

                Joba’s 24. His command will come as he matures and continues learning how to pitch.

    • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

      He has shown a decent curveball and changeup in the past.

    • Mike HC

      AJ only has two pitches and he does alright with them. It will just lead to more inconsistency. If the pitches are on, your dominant. If they are off, you don’t have any other pitches to lean on, so you get crushed.

      • Bo

        AJ has an elite fastball.

        Its electric and sits at 95mph.

        Joba didnt touch 95.

        • pete

          actually, AJ sat around 93-94 for most of the year. And joba did touch 95 in the first half. I would not be at all surprised to see Joba sitting 93-94 for much of next year. Fastball velocity isn’t even close to being his biggest issue coming off this year. That would be command and getting his slider back.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    What I’m curious about is why Hughes wouldn’t have much of an innings limit, considering he spent most of the season in the bullpen?

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      They probably feel they can build off his 146 innings in 2006.

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        Seriously, 2006?

        • http://thetundrablog.blogspot.com/ Jake H

          Yes. They used Joba’s previous high not last year for his innings limit.

          • Bo

            maybe they dont want to promo this and have it be talked about all yr.

            • pete

              I agree. I would not be at all surprised to see hughes shut down or ‘penned later in the year. I think he’s cool to go 160, but beyond that and i’m a little worried for 2011

  • A.D.

    He’s a young starter, without a ton of pro innings under his belt, there’s going to be struggles, we saw that this year. The key is the flashes, he’s shown the ability to dominate as everyone hopes he can, it just comes down to consistency. I much prefer the ups and downs from a young player when compared to being consistently okay.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Joba and Phil will combine for at least 4.3 WAR in 2010. Book it.

  • Reggie C.

    Now that we recognize that Joba’s FB needs several innings to settle into the 94 range, Joba should work at a brisk pace to keep hitters from settling in those early innings.

    He’s going to have his clunkers, but I’d be disappointed and surprised if Joba didn’t log at least 170 innings now that he’s off the “rules.”

    I think Joba’s better than a 4.50 ERA. I’ll bank on a 4.00 ERA. We need him to do at least that…

    • Mike HC

      The only thing we know with Joba is that we don’t really know what the expect year to year. He is very inconsistent in all aspects of his life. His weight balloned up and down all year, his velocity was also up and down inning to inning.

      His first year in college he has a 2.81 era and 1.05 whip and his second year he had a 3.93 era and 1.32 whip. Every year he has been in the majors has also been inconsistent.

      He is consistently inconsistent and who knows what to expect next year. I am keeping my fingers crossed

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I’ll agree that I would like to see Joba work faster; might help. Watching Cliff Lee’s rapid pace made me jealous.

      Of course, Joba might just not be that kind of “work fast” pitcher… maybe he can try it and get comfortable with working fast, who knows?

      I’d love that to be an organizational mandate, though; train all the guys to work faster as they come up through the minors. Get the ball, throw the ball, get the ball, throw the ball. We have guys with dynamite stuff at all levels of the organization; rear back and attack them. I think (layman’s opinion) that a lot of the struggles of Joba/Phil/Ian as they came up (other than all three of them being relative babies, of course) was that they were overthinking things and losing confidence, a natural occurrence of young pitchers everywhere as they experience their first struggles.

      Maybe a rhythm of working fast and just throwing your pitches without overfocusing on them would help combat that mental pressurecooker that they face as kids in NYC. My two cents.


      • Bo

        When did Joba ever sit at 94mph???

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          All of 2008.

          2008 he sat at 92-94 and peaked at 96-97.
          This year, he sat at 91-93 and peaked at 94-95.

          No big deal.

      • pete

        joba’s pace in that boston start in may where he struck out 12 was crazy fast, after the 5 runs in the first. It seemed like that first inning took forever and then he just got pissed and started going nuts (also threw a ton of good changeups in that game)

  • larryf

    Joba slows down terribly when someone gets on base. It is just one runner who at best will steal one base. He needs to go after the batter more and, with his stuff, take care of business at the plate. Jorge won’t throw the guy out anyway. Did J-Ro really steal 2nd down 7-3 in the 8th? :-)

    • Tubby

      They need to show him some video of vintage Doc Gooden. I don’t think Gooden made a pickoff attempt in his entire tenure with the Mets.

  • mryankee

    I hope your all right about Joba because we are expecting a lot from a kid who appears to have let the hype go to his head and for wahetevr reason is afraid to throw the f-ing ball.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      a kid who appears to have let the hype go to his head

      Can I please ask you what evidence you have with which to back up this claim? This is pure, unadulterated speculation.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      “let the hype go to his head” = he’s a young talented starter who experiences roadbumps, just like all young talented starters do.

      “for wahetevr reason is afraid to throw the f-ing ball” = Bullshit. Nothing about Joba has ever indicated an unwillingness to throw the f-ing ball, or fear, for that matter. Baseless conjecture and false narrative.

      • mryankee

        You explain how when he faces boston in 2008-he was around 94-96-mph. then last year he was around 90-93-then against detroit last year he was again around 94-96. He gets talked to by Jeter in one game then starts throwing harder?

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Hi, I’m afraid we haven’t met. I’m Joba’s shoulder injury that most likely affected his mechanics, which in turn affected his velocity. Nice to meet you.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Absolutely, I’ll explain why one game he’s around 94-96, then another game he’s around 90-93, then another he’s around 94-96 again.

          A.) Baseball (some days you have it, some days you don’t)
          B.) Randomness (see also A)
          C.) The difficulty of mastering a repeatable delivery
          D.) The natural maturation process of a young starter tinkering with his delivery

          Every pitcher experiences dips and spikes with their velocity over a season. That goes double for young pitchers, and triple for young pitchers who are pitching a larger workload than they’re accustomed to.

          A game-to-game dip or spike in velocity should not be something that concerns you, unless it’s permanently down (it’s not) or dramatically down (it’s not) or trending down year after year (it’s not) or coupled with injury red flags (it’s not).

          Relax. Nothing to concern yourself with. 9 times out of 10, a velocity fluctuation by a pitcher is just randomness and not a big deal at all.

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            I’m waiting for the Lincecum comp.

            • PhukTheHeck

              Speaking of lincecum, here’s a great read about pitchers (albeit old), and their mechanics. Verducci talks to Rick Peterson about the bio-mechanics of pitching, and the stress it puts on the individual’s arm and shoulder. Here’s the money quote:

              Throwing a baseball is an act of violence that has been graphically defined by Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Glenn Fleisig and the other doctors and clinicians at the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Birmingham. From the loaded position, the shoulder, at its peak speed, rotates forward at 7,000 degrees per second. “That,” Fleisig says, “is the fastest measured human motion of any human activity.

              While in the loaded position, the shoulder and elbow bear the equivalent of about 40 pounds of force pushing down. When the ASMI biomechanists wanted to know how much more force an arm could take, they brought cadavers into the lab and pulled and pushed upon the elbow joint to find the breaking point. The cadavers’s ligaments blew apart just after 40 pounds of force. “So a pitcher is just about at the maximum,” Fleisig says.

              From the loaded position, when the ball has come to a stop, it is accelerated from zero mph to 90 mph in 3/10 of a second. Rick Peterson, the former New York Mets pitching coach who has worked with ASMI since 1993 and is the acknowledged expert on pitching biomechanics among his peers, once referred to that measurement in a speech he gave to college coaches. A doctor of physics who was in the audience approached him after the talk.

              “Rick, do you know what that means in g-forces?” the doctor asked.

              “I have no idea.”

              “If your entire body was accelerated at that rate of speed for over 60 seconds you would die.”

              These guys are at the absolute edge of destroying their arms, and they do it over 100x a game. Cut the guy some slack for not hitting 99 every time.


              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                (golf clap)

              • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                Excellent read; thanks dude.

          • mryankee

            Hello Dr Matt I am glad you explained that so what your saying is the Yankees did not get him the proper medical attention needed so he could throw the way he was expected?

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              No, that’s absolutely not what I’m saying. I’m saying he’s throwing “softer” because he was probably affected by the shoulder injury, as are most pitchers who get hurt.

              Also, as Tommie said, it’s just the inconsistencies of baseball and the learning fluid, repeatable mechanics. It’s not easy to just go out there and run shit, no matter how long you’ve been playing.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                It’s not easy to just go out there and run shit, no matter how long you’ve been playing.

                Well, Nick Swisher can, but he chooses not to so as not to embarrass everyone else. He hits .250 instead of .500 out of charity and humility.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  That’s a given.

                  /Burgandy voice’d

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Veronica: Take me to Pleasure Town!
                  Ron: OH, WE’RE GOING THERE!!!

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  Look! The most glorious rainbow ever!

              • Kevin M.


        • pete

          have you ever read a scouting report of a young kid with a great arm? Take Chapman for example: scouting reports say his fastball is between 87-100mph. It’s not because sometimes he is “afraid to throw the f-ing ball”. It’s because one little mechanical issue with a delivery can very easily take 5 mph off a fastball. I remember in high school there would be starts where i’d be cruising at 85, and starts where it seemed tough to dial it up to 80. Just saying. It’s amazing that people are capable of maintaining the same velo every time they go out there

  • http://thetundrablog.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    Joba did what he needed to. He was healthy. Also how can the rules not be a success when the Yanks won the WS and Joba helped the Yanks get there all year?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Also how can the rules not be a success when the Yanks won the WS and Joba helped the Yanks get there all year?


    • Thomas

      Also how can the rules not be a success when the Yanks won the WS and Joba helped the Yanks get there all year?

      Yankees WS when Wang was at his best = 0
      Yankees WS when Wang was at his worst = 1

      Therefore, the Yankees are at their best when Wang is at his worst.

  • larryf

    Hoping Joba ends up as good as AJ (in terms of having 2 pitches) is not something I am on board with. AJ’s #’s from age 23-30 were nothing great. His best year was 18-10 at age 31. The Yanks won’t be that patient. I hope Joba can become a dominant/top starter but, if not, at least his deficiencies can be avoided coming out of the bullpen…

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Joba throws a fastball, a slider, a curve, and a changeup. Please stop calling him a two-pitch pitcher.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Moreover, according to FG (which sources Baseball Info Solutions), Joba’s been throwing the fastball and slider LESS as he matures and the curve and changeup MORE.


        • JobaWockeeZ

          Screw that my eyes tell me he’s a two pitcher pitcah!! To the pen!

        • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

          Mmm, delicious numerical evidence. My favorite kind.

          • Bo

            it’s great that he has 4 pitches. Not great when his fastball isn’t good and he doesnt command the others.

            • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

              “Good” is not a nice way to describe the ineffectiveness of a fastball.

              As for his command: of course that’s something Joba should be working on as he develops more as a starting pitcher. That’s not a task Joba alone among all SPs must accomplish. Every young pitcher has to work at command.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Mmmmmmmmm, open-faced club sandwich.

      • larryf

        He’s a two pitch pitcher 85% of the time. That works for me. I would like to know how many times he is even or behind in the count when he throws the curve/change. Anyway-I want him to succeed as much as anyone but still think he is a major work in progress. As far as mechanics and arm injury-I think he is a time bomb. Time for a tutorial in The Art of Pitching with Tom Seaver (we will consider the latter a Yankee for this purpose)…

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          He’s a two pitch pitcher 85% of the time. That works for me.

          Yeah… no. Doesn’t work that way.

          AJ Burnett is not a two-pitch pitcher because he’s a two-pitch pitcher 85% of the time, he’s a two-pitch pitcher because he’s a two-pitch pitcher 100% of the time.

          Most pitchers who use 3, 4, or 5 pitches only throw those 3rd, 4th, and 5th pitches about a combined 10-20% of the time. 3/4/5 pitch pitchers still primarily work off their fastball 60-70% of the time and their main secondary pitch the lions share of the rest of the time.

          You don’t need to throw the curve or the change more than 15% of the time for them to be effective weapons, you just need to throw them more than 1% of the time.

          Joba is NOT a two-pitch pitcher. He’s a four-pitch pitcher. He is NOT AJ Burnett, that’s not a good comp for him.

    • pete

      AJ’s best years were ’02 and ’05, when he was 25 and 28. He has also been, despite inconsistency, a good pitcher between 2001-2009, years 24-32. He will also probably continue to be a good pitcher for another few years. If Joba is as good as AJ, and we get to have him for cheap for a while, then that is a GOOD thing.

  • Dillon

    There’s two things we need to see for Joba and Phil to be successful:

    A. Joba’s fastball needs to be in the 93-94 range as a starter. When he’s sitting 91-93 his curve/slider are worse, his change still isn’t there, and his fastball can’t beat guys. If he’s sitting 92mph at this stage in his career he’ll have the same year he had in ’09.

    B. Phil’s fastball as a starter is only going to sit in the 90-93mph category so without a serious fastball he needs to have control. Not only control of fb, but also curve and change. The curve, although better in pen, was not a swing and miss pitch for him like joba’s slider can be. His change isn’t there yet either. Its gonna be a very long year for Phil until he gets great control. I’d prob start him in AAA until he is controlling all three pitches.

    • Mike HC

      Hughes also added an 88mph (about) cutter. If he continues to develop that pitch, it will make his 4 seam 90-93 mph pitch seem a bit faster. I think that cutter is the key to Hughes career as a starter. I love that pitch.

  • Bo

    Would it really be so terrible if these two turned out to be dominant relievers?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Would it really be so terrible if we only won 2 world Series from 1996-2000 instead of 4?

      No, it wouldn’t be. We’d treasure those 2 titles. However, we treasure those 4 more than we would treasure those 2.

      Joba and Phil becoming dominant relievers would be good. Joba and Phil becoming dominant starters is much, much, much better. You don’t choose the path of diminishing returns until you absolutely need to. We don’t yet need to.

  • Free Mike Vick

    i think with any younger pitcher…confidence is the biggest thing. Joba is no different. You could clearly see at times this year that he had no confidence. He was passive..wasn’t aggressive..just kinda, “Blah”…his FB velocity was down all year…he was thinking way too much at times…shaking off a lot. and i really didn’t have a problem with it. He is a young pitcher. he is learning how to go about starting on the major league level. Sometimes you got a let him fall down and see if he can get himself back up. and we shall see next year what he does.

    ideally it would be nice if we could find the joba of 2008 (starting version). Because he looked confident…aggressive…showed life on the FB…bite on the slider. That game in Fenway last year showed everything Joba could be as a starter. FB at 95-96…wicked slider..curve ball that you could catch guys off guard with…and even a change up you could sneak in there. Thats the Joba we want.

  • MikeD

    If the Joba Rules didn’t work, but the goal was to stretch him out as a starter, then what was the alternative? More innings? Less innings? Minor leagues? A solid month off? He’s a young pitcher and we have to expect growing pains, and that’s what we got.

    My main concern with Joba remains a loss of about 3 mph in velocity and late life on his fastball, as well as reduced control of his fastball, all of which happened after he went on the DL in August 2008. I think we’re all forgeting how good his fastball was, as a reliever and as a starter prior to 8/08. I’m hoping a year removed from whatever happened and a full year as a starter means he’ll be physically ready for 2010, and we see the Joba and Joba fastball of “old.”

  • Mason

    One thing worries me about Joba. In 2009, he didn’t have that overpowering fastball that sat at 97-98 like he did in ’07-’08. I understand that he was making the transition into a starter and might of just been holding back a bit to increase his longevity in each start, but a guy who threw high 90’s as a reliever should still be able to consistently bring it harder than 91-92 every time as a starter. He’s a great young pitcher and very likely will be an ace in the future. But right now and the way 09 ended, Im putting Hughes over Chamberlain if there’s 1 spot left to fill. Hughes did great out of the bullpen, but in my opinion he has the makeup of a starting pitcher. A lot will happen in spring training, but right now I would choose Hughes over Joba if that decision was necessary.

  • Rob in CT

    I think the rules were a success. Job stayed healthy. Towards the end they had to do some odd-looking things (the 3 inning starts), but I agreed with the approach. The guy I think they may have messed up was Wang, not Joba.

    I think Joba basically ran out of gas at the end. He was well over his previous innings high watermark.

    I still worry a bit about his shoulder and mechanics post-injury, but I’m just a worrier when it comes to injury (particularly to our young pitchers).

    I’m excited to see Joba and Phil pitch next year. I think both will improve on 2009.

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