This one is a few weeks old, but highly appropriate to our current discourse. (With thanks to Jamal for the pointer.) At Full Count Pitch, Gary Armida discusses the over-analysis of Joba Chamberlain. Everyone’s guilty of it, from the mainstream media right down to the lowest-trafficked blog. Yes, this includes RAB. The whole article is a good read, but this is the big takeaway:
If he continues to show the Yankees signs of being a good starter, he should be given the opportunity to continue in that role. If he shows he can’t, he should be sent to the bullpen. But, a proper evaluation is all about patience and seeing the big picture.
A proper evaluation involves more than one season, especially when that season wasn’t exactly a full one. Joba did go wire-to-wire, but 1) he faced innings restrictions which changed his schedule in August and September, and 2) his worst performances came when he cross his previous innings threshold. Considering his performances from April through July, and the age at which he performed, he should certainly get another look.
Only 161 pitchers since 1980 managed even 140 innings in their age-23 season. Only 98 of those posted an ERA+ over 100. Joba’s struggles in this early stage of his career are not surprising. He deserves more than just one restricted year to prove his value to the Yankees.
This isn’t to say that he should win the fifth starter battle or that he should never go to the bullpen. Circumstances dictate the situation, and right now the Yankees have two promising young starters vying for one open rotation spot. To relegate Joba to the bullpen permanently, at this stage of his career, would be a mistake. There’s plenty more time for a more thorough evaluation.
Oh, and in case you didn’t see, Joba’s line from today’s intrasquad game: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1K. The best part was that of his 74 pitches, 48 were strikes.