Joba lost more fastball velocity than any other pitcher


Over at FanGraphs they’re having fun with the new splits, posting trend after trend. Buried under a few such posts, Matthew Carruth took a look at which pitchers saw more speed on their fastballs in 2009 over 2008, and which ones lost the most velocity. No Yankees made the gains list, but two made the losses. Mariano Rivera lost 1.3 miles per hour on his cutter, though it didn’t show in the results. Joba Chamberlain lost more velocity than any pitcher with more than 50 IP in 2008 and 2009, by 2.5 mph. Part of the drop comes because Joba started 2008 in the bullpen and was airing out 97 mph fastballs before settling in at 94-95 in the rotation. But we did notice a difference this year. Joba’s average fastball clocked 92.5 mph. He can succeed with that speed if he continues to hone his curveball, but clearly he’s a more effective pitcher with a little more juice on ol’ number one.

Categories : Asides


  1. pat says:

    93 mph and healthy is fine by me. We don’t need a guy sitting 95-96 who can’t stay on the field.

  2. Steve H says:

    Good thing he’s a starting pitcher with 2 or 3 other pitches to throw.

  3. Chip says:

    I’ve got to say that they’ve really stepped up the writing there since the splits came out. I’d suggest the pieces on Mauer’s strange splits as that’s some of the best stuff I’ve read in a long time. I sure hope a team tries out the double shift against him to see if I can adjust or if it screws with his rhythm. It could really be effective as guys who pull the ball on the ground really hate that shift. I know it was in Ortiz’s head a few years ago

  4. Mike HC says:

    I kinda get the feeling he will get his velocity back up this year. Then will probably lose it again the year after. Basically, I predict an inconsistent career out of Joba. He will have Cy Young worthy years, and others where he is either injured, or just performing subpar. Something about this guy screams rollercoaster ride. It should be fun and nauseating at the same time.

    • PaulF says:

      Josh Beckett?

    • Chip says:

      I’m not sure, I think the Yankees tinkered with his delivery in an attempt to keep him healthy which sapped a mph or so. I think this year is really going to be a great year as his fastball is still a plus pitch.

      From what I saw, he just couldn’t locate his fastball and kept falling behind guys. If this was due to him being tired and therefore getting a little screwed up in his newly tweaked delivery then we might see him take a huge step forward this year. If he can get into more pitchers counts by locating his fastball on the corners then that really brings into play the slider and curve as strikeout pitches where last year it seemed that he was having to use those pitches to get strikes early in the count and pitch backwards.

      • Mike HC says:

        Yea, you could easily be right. Just thought I would throw out at least one possible career arc for him. And at this point, for me, it seems more than possible.

        But for the sake of the Yanks, I hope he turns into the more consistent, efficient pitcher you have envisioned.

  5. JGS says:

    How much did Verlander lose from 07 to 08?

  6. http://www.fangraphs.com/fgrap.....091004.png (safe)

    Joba’s fastball velocity chart. Look at ’09 carefully.

    Joba’s fastball was slower in August and September, when A) he was pitching beyond 110 IP for the first time in his career and B) the latest iteration of the Joba Rules (skipping/delaying starts and abbreviating their length) was in effect.

    Give the kid a 2010 with no crazy innings limits and with a 100+ innings wall already scaled, and I bet he bounces the velocity right back up. Dude was probably just gassed at season’s end.

    • Chip says:

      Agreed, it seemed like he both couldn’t throw his fastball by anybody and couldn’t locate it after July. If either of those come back this year, he’s going to do well. If both of those come back this year, he’s going to straight up dominate the league.

    • Chip says:

      That one has always and will always amaze me. Where does a guy who has been in the bullpen his entire life suddenly find 3 more mph mid-way through a season when he should be actually be wearing down? What’s even more amazing is that his control IMPROVED as he gained velocity.

      • And, he was pitching faster/better as his innings workload increased and became higher leverage. He pitched better when we started giving him bigger innings.


        • Chip says:

          Sounds like someone who could do a great job in TEH 8TH!!11!1! if the Yankees were stupid enough to think that it would be best for Hughes to get innings in down in Scranton.

          • whozat says:

            There are legitimate points on both sides of the AAA/bullpen argument, which means that it’s not stupid to think one way or the other.

            1) instantly available to slot into rotation
            2) getting more reps with secondary pitches which will be needed down the road for MLB success
            3) will definitely reach his innings cap for the season, which will be needed down the road for MLB success

            1) minor leaguers will not be a challenge
            2) Big league bullpen might be a little less good (but will still have a strong back-end)

            1) getting big leaguers out 3-5 times a week challenges him, which is good for MLB success
            2) makes bullpen better

            1) unlikely to throw more than 100 innings this season, barring mid-season gymnastics or actual 70s-style “fireman” usage — bad for development
            2) Will pretty much always throw FB and one breaking pitch — hinders development
            3) Will require several weeks to transition to rotation in the event of big-league need

            • Pro-bullpen: he has a great emotionless, Mo-like mentality perfectly suited for the pressure-packed, don’t-lose-your-cool 8th inning

              Con-bullpen: he lacks Joba’s bull-in-a-china-shop mentality that you need to pitch that all-important, rear-back-and-attack-’em 8th inning

            • JobaWockeeZ says:

              3) Will require several weeks to transition to rotation in the event of big-league need.

              Will it really take weeks? I do not know myself but IIRC David Cone was going on last year how that transition wasn’t as long as it’s commonly thought.

            • Chip says:

              There are ways to challenge pitchers in the minor leagues. For instance, take his curve ball away from him for a start, make him try to get through an order on nothing but his fastball and change-up a time or two, go for strikeout swings on the cutter up and in to lefties.

              I think that Melancon is also going to take a huge step forward this season and the Yankees could be set up for the next 3-4 years with Marte (if he really is back)/Robertson/Melancon holding down the innings until Mo comes in.

      • Mike HC says:

        shh. pipe down with all that stuff. don’t need any unwanted inquires into any Yankee players.

  7. [...] yesterday’s post about Joba’s diminished velocity, commenter tommiesmithjohncarlos linked to Robertson’s velocity chart. He called it sexy, but after clicking the link I became a bit more concerned. You can check it out [...]

  8. Bo says:

    Either Joba was hurt last yr or he isn’t a frontline starting pitcher. You just dont lose that much off your fastball. If he wasnt injured and hes holding back or something to last longer he shouldnt be starting. hes clearly a different pitcher out of the pen when he doesnt have to think and lets it fly for 30 pitches. Its a different ballgame at 96 than 90. As we all saw last yr.

  9. [...] didn’t go quite as well as the first. For starters, his fastball lost 2.5 miles per hour, the biggest loss in the majors among pitchers with 50 innings in 2008 and 2009. He seemed tentative on the mound, constantly [...]

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