Joba and 98

Yanks break out, beat D-Backs
Could any of the recent DFA's help the Yankees?

Somewhat lost in the offensive explosion that was the top of the 8th inning last night, Joba Chamberlain looked pretty damn fantastic in the bottom of the frame. Ironically enough, he walked the leadoff hitter on seven pitches with a seven run lead, which is the mecca of no-nos, but after that he was simply untouchable. Not one of his eleven fastballs dipped under 95 mph according to PitchFX, and six of them were at either 97 or 98. His 2-2 fastball to strikeout The Justin Upton looking for the first out was simply devastating (above), a 98 mph heater down and on the outer black. It was an unhittable pitch; the best possible result for Upton was a foul ball and probably a broken bat.

It’s the hardest I remember seeing the enigmatic starter turned reliever turned starter turned reliever turned starter turned reliever throw since the first half of 2008, so basically two full seasons. Joba has shown a few 95’s and 96’s at times this year, but sure enough he’d come back out with 91’s and 92’s the next time out. He hasn’t been able to maintain that velocity from outing to outing. What was different about last night?

I can’t offer a definitive answer, but I can’t help but wonder if the long top half of the inning gave him more time to get loose. Remember, it was a one run game before Arizona’s lolpen did what it’s done all season, and Joba was getting loose at the very start of that half inning in anticipation of a close game and a setup situation  after three outs. The Yanks’ offense instead spent 21 minutes and three seconds piling up six hits, a walk, and six runs, so any sense of urgency was removed.

It’s no secret that starters and relievers have different warm up routines, and perhaps Joba is still adjusting to warming up in a matter of minutes instead of at his own pace. His fastball velocity has been creeping up all season, which isn’t all that surprising since everyone’s starting to get in midseason form and it’s warm out and the whole nine. But the upper-90’s is something I don’t think any of us saw coming. Maybe that velocity is hiding behind a few more warm up pitches, and Joba just needs to start his routine a little earlier, in the 7th inning or something.

Granted, pure velocity isn’t everything, he’s still got to locate his pitches in order to avoid hard contact. Major League hitters will hit 98 if you don’t locate it, which makes that pitch to Upton particularly impressive. It wasn’t quite Ubaldo good, but it was certainly good enough to get a batter that’s tormented the Yankees through the first two games of the series. If Joba can start to maintain even 95-96 and keep the ball down in the zone and out of the middle third of the plate, he’ll be highly, highly effective.

Perhaps I’m completely off base here and Joba just decided to turn it loose with a six run lead, figuring if he walked a guy, he walked a guy, it wasn’t the end of the world with the greatest reliever to ever walk the face of the Earth behind him. Maybe it was the Arizona heat that loosened him up. Maybe it was dumb luck. Whatever it was, I hope we see more of it in the future.

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Yanks break out, beat D-Backs
Could any of the recent DFA's help the Yankees?
  • mike c

    Maybe it was the Arizona heat that loosened him up.

    grunts, farts

  • Pete

    I remember thinking at the time of the decision to start hughes (not realizing how far along hughes actually was, of course), that after last year, where joba got his innings but was unable to maintain velocity consistently, that they had put him in the pen to help him regain that velocity. If he starts next year, he’ll be only a year removed from a 160 inning threshold, so innings limits shouldn’t be a huge issue, and he’ll also be coming off of a reduced workload season so he shouldn’t be overtired either.

    Joba Chamberlain will be a starter in 2011.

    • http://www.soxandpinstripes.typepad.com/ Angelo

      I hope so, but the Yankees FO will make their own decisions. And I’m willing to bet at this point, that they know more than us.

    • mike c

      if he has fastball command, he will be a starter next year

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

      I wouldn’t be so sure. If the team had any confidence in his ability to start they would have, mistakenly, given the 5th starter role to him and not Phil Hughes in March. After all, he was the guy that was fully equipped to go the full 200 IP season, and it was just in 2008 when he was one of the two or three best pitchers in the AL on a rate basis.

      He hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in the bullpen, his stuff has been wildly inconsistent causing him to underperform his peripherals, one night he’ll have 96 with movement and a plus slider, get two Ks and a GB the next night it’ll be 92 straight and a flat slider and he’ll get, rightfully, lit up. As a reliever when you pitch only one inning, the bad outing has a demonstrable effect on your stats and he can’t string together enough good outings to outweigh the bad ones. While his stuff may have been good, it’s not good enough to really inspire the confidence necessary that he can be an effective starter in the AL East. He used to consistently reach up for 98+, now he almost never does it. He used to consistently buckle batters knees with a wicket slider (with almost 11-5 break) now he only flashes that slider occasionally. I’ve said this before it’s not the results with Joba I’m worried about, young pitchers struggle I get that, it’s the stuff. I am well aware that Phil Hughes and Justin Verlander went through stretches where they lost their stuff and got it back, hopefully so will Chamberlain.

      There’s another issue too, when I was pissed off at Joba’s frequent 3IP 2ER outings towards the end of the season and 5.2 4ER outings towards the beginning of the season people told me that he only has 90 MiLB IP, I was lamenting that Clay Buchholz actually looked like he can be a future top of the rotations tarter in 2009, while Joba Chamberlain looked like he could be Jeff Karsten’s stunt double if someone cut off a few of his chins. People, correctly, pointed out that Clay Buchholz had well over 400 IP in the minors, and thus was more prepared to achieve success. I looked at this issue, and did some other checking up on recent young phenoms in the AL East and added up all the starts they had in the minors or a major college conference and here’s what I have so far:

      Clay Buchholz: 89 Starts in the minors
      Phil Hughes: 62 starts in the minors
      Matt Garza: 54 starts in the minors 35 in the college, 89 total
      David Price: 27 starts in the minors 34 in college, 61 total
      Jon Lester: 77 starts in the minors
      Joba Chamberlain: 15 starts in the minors, 32 in college 47 total

      Jon Lester also had 26 starts of mediocre-ish starts in the majors before becoming a top of the rotation starter.

      Up until last night, I had came to the conclusion that Joba is just way too inconsistent in the bullpen to be a real asset there, and he needs to be a starter. His ceiling is too high to even consider giving up on him or trading him for something crappy; so the best course of action would be to send him back down to Scranton convert him back to a starter and let him work on his mechanics, warm up routine, conditioning, or what ever it is that causes him to be so inconsistent and shitty at times. The team hadn’t really given him a proper chance to develop as a starter, no I’m not upset that they moved him to the bullpen, I am upset that they moved him to the bullpen in 2007. He was clearly the hottest pitcher on the planet and arguably the best prospect in all of baseball, although, he really only had two seasons in college and (at least one) that was cut short by injuries. He’s not exactly Gabe Kapler physically either, and probably needs some time to prepare himself for the grueling task of being a fulltime starter in the majors. They seemingly unleashed him in 2008, but he got hurt. He wasn’t ready to handle a full season of starting the bigs, imagine that…a guy throws 90 innings in the minors and can’t handle a full season in the AL East, instead of letting him rehab in Scranton and getting some more development in, they moved him back to the bullpen.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

        Forgot to finish this (they need an edit post button here, or a full out message board would be nice too…just a suggestion). Anyways, point being, I wouldn’t start him in the majors next year unless he goes on a Hughesian run in the second half in the bullpen. Displaying plus stuff every outing and plus command.

  • Mariano’s Pimp Hand

    I remember a couple of years ago (when Joba was starting) that he was getting hit hard in the first inning. The Yanks started to get him into the pen to warm up earlier before the game and he had better results.

  • Frank

    I’m not sure the extra warm ups had anything to do with his hitting 98. The fact is he hasn’t pitched since last Saturday. I’d be curious to see how he does tonight if he’s needed in the 8th.

  • CountryClub

    When Joba throws high 90’s it makes his slider devestating. He’s gotten it up to 97/98 maybe a handful of appearances this yr. I always thought those days coincided with his mechanics being perfect. But maybe you’re right and it has to do with his warmup. Whatever it is, I hope they can figure it out.

  • Shadow

    maybe it was just me, but I thought he looked a little heavier than earlier in the season. Maybe he needs that extra girth to get that velocity.

    • Mike HC

      I too saw that throughout his entire career. Fat Joba throws hard, in shape skinny Joba throws slower. And he fluctuates like nobodies business which is not a good sign. He is just inconsistent as hell in many different walks of life, pitching being one of them.

  • Rose

    Granted, pure velocity isn’t everything, he’s still got to locate his pitches in order to avoid hard contact.

    It’s very easy to turn a toy into an adult toy…location, location, location

    Sincerely,
    Demetri Martin

    • http://www.twitter.com/stophamm3rtime Dela G

      ha i just saw this. well done sir. well done.

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

      (golf clap)

  • http://www.twitter.com/stophamm3rtime Dela G

    i swear i remember him throwing this hard against detroit this year in detroit when the yanks lost a close game. i think the score was a 5-4 loss. it was when zumaya was pumping 101 and valverde came in and acted like a dbag after throwing strikes and was throwing 97-98 himself.

    anyways, that detroit game was the only other time this season when i was like…. DAYUM JOBA!! Watching that 98 on the black made my pants happy…

    • CountryClub

      Joba has hit 97/98 a few times this yr. But it’s been a while.

  • Jay T

    Of course you also mentioned dumb luck. With Joba being a head case, that could have something to do with it as well.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Unless you know the player personally, I suggest you refrain from calling them a head case or making statements about their intelligence.

      • Rose

        “head case” is certainly a strong phrase that I wouldn’t have used…but any psychologist or psychiatrist will attest that having a mother battling drug addiction and a disabled father your whole life…certainly has an affect on your personality, outlook, and perhaps overall life.

        Correlation is not equal to causation; it is only a requirement for it.

        Either way, it’s good to see the velocity back to where we remember it during his initial success in the bullpen.

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

        I don’t know him personally, Mike, but Mike Francesa has intimated that he’s a head case, and Mike Francesa has never once jumped to a conclusion or committed a logical fallacy. If Francesa says it, it must be true.

        Therefore, Joba = head case.

        Q.E.D.

        • http://www.twitter.com/stophamm3rtime Dela G

          Mike F: GIVE ME PORCELLO’S STATS!! GIVE ME HIS STATS!!

          Intern: Sir, he has no stats since he’s been moved to the minor leagues…

          Mike F: BRONSON ARROYO IS STILL A GREAT PITCHAH!!!

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

            (chugs Diet Coke)

            • http://www.twitter.com/stophamm3rtime Dela G

              ah, forgot the most critical aspect

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

        Well…not to be a dick, but he did get a DUI. People can recover from that and sometimes people a mistakes, but he blew over a .20. That’s not a mistake, it’s not like he had a few drinks and blew like a .12 or something that used to be legal many moons ago, he was WELL over the legal limit (which admittedly is too low) so I guess you could use that to call a guy a head case. Although, to Joba Chamberlain’s credit, he seems to have gotten through that and seems active in the community, has a great relationship with his dad. That being said I think we all would hate his guts if he played for a different team.

    • Simon B.

      Where does the “headcase” and “bad attitude” stuff come from on Joba?

      He’s been a frustrating pitcher to watch, but I’ve seen no evidence at all that its in his mentality.

      It sounds psychological on the part of the fans, if anything. They’re annoyed with Joba, so they like to project their feelings onto Joba.

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

        Where does the “headcase” and “bad attitude” stuff come from on Joba?

        Lazy, bad journalism, that’s where.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      I’ve re-read this a few times, I think Jay T is just joking, but I’m not sure.

  • Goodtimes-to-be-a-BJOBBER

    Its because what we have been saying for three years. He’s a high energy guy that performs better in short “high energy” moments. Even when he gets hit as a reliever, velocity isn’t usually the problem, location is……he simply throws harder as a reliever. I think people struggle with this because it’s an viewpoint based in watching him on the mound, and is very difficult to support with enough baseball nerd math (which BTW I love and why I visit this site daily)…..

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

      he simply throws harder as a reliever.

      A.) We knew that already.
      B.) We didn’t care when we first found that out.
      C.) We still don’t care now.

      Throwing softer but throwing more innings as a starter and having a bigger impact on the game >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> throwing harder but throwing fewer innings and having a smaller impact on the game.

      I think people struggle with this because it’s an viewpoint based in watching him on the mound,

      No, people struggle with it because even if it’s true (that Joba is better as a reliever), it’s moot. A pitcher being better as a reliever than as a starter isn’t relevant to the matter at hand at all. 95% of big league pitchers would be better relievers than they would be as starters. The point is, if a pitcher has the capability to be a good starter, he should be one, even if he also has the capability to be a lights out reliever.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      he simply throws harder as a reliever.

      This has never been disputed. By anyone.

      • Pete

        I semi-disputed it below. He was able to hit basically the same velocities as a starter in ’08 as he did as a reliever in ’07, maybe a hair below. The difference was (and will be with every pitcher ever) consistency. As a reliever, you (generally) don’t tire, and you don’t need to conserve yourself, so you “bring it” on every pitch. In ’07, this meant every FB from Joba (on most days – you’re bound to have a bad velocity day every now and again) was 98-100. As a starter, you do tire, and you do need to conserve energy, so you only completely “bring it” when a situation dictates that you should. So for the most part, Joba was throwing fastballs at 94-96. But in tough spots (and there were many of them, as he had had a very high walk rate, despite good command), he could hit the upper 90s at will, and touched 99 several times during starts.

        Like I said below, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to do that again as a starter unless you also believe that he won’t be able to sit in the upper 90s consistently as a reliever. This is, of course, perfectly likely, but it does somewhat dispute the notion that he “simply throws harder as a reliever”. Any pitcher will have a higher average velocity in relief, but there won’t be a huge difference between peak starting velocity and peak relieving velocity. You never claimed that he suddenly gains arm strength in the bullpen, but GTTBABJ kindof insinuated that, and it’s completely false.

        If the Nats put Strasburg in the bullpen (which they may have to at the end of the year), he’d probably be at 100 or 101 on just about every fastball, and maybe hit 102 occasionally. But he wouldn’t suddenly start throwing 104+. It doesn’t work that way.

        (As an aside, imagine strasburg in the bullpen. His K-rate would be like 20/9)

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          Agreed, there are some starters that can maintain higher velocity over 200 innings (Verlander, Ubaldo) that absolutely would not throw harder in the pen. Joba may or may not be that type of guy, I can only hope we get the chance to find out. He’s never had consistent 6 and 7 innings throwing 98 night in and night out for a full season, and he’s thrown harder in 2010 as a reliever than 2009 as a starter, which very well could be injury related.

          • Pete

            injury and workload. My point wasn’t that he could average 97 as a starter, but that if he’s back to where he was in ’07/’08, then he could hit 97-99 as a starter with a good amount of regularity.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              Agreed.

      • Ellis

        Well, c’mon, that’s not true. RAB, in some of its many anti-B-Jobber posts, has argued something along the lines of “Why would Joba throw any harder as a reliever? Why would he just choose to throw softer as a starter?” Although in more recent articles they’ve backed off that argument.

        (btw I still, and always will, think that Joba should be a starter.)

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          This is false. Nobody denies that he’s likely to throw harder as a reliever than as a starter.

        • Mike HC

          Not quite, but I see what you are saying. It was more a “he is not going to magically become 2007 Joba by putting him in the pen,” and how right RAB, and many others, have been. He is extremely inconsistent in every role he has been put in.

      • Ellis

        Found a RAB quote saying that Joba might not necessarily throw harder as a reliever.

        From “Getting Up to Speed with Joba Chamberlain”
        “…moving Joba to the bullpen simply isn’t the answer. If his velocity is lower now as a starter than it was last year also as a starter, it is illogical to assume that he would magically rediscover six or eight miles per hour as a reliever.”

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

          Do us all a favor: when citing prior posts from the website, click on the little date and timestamp underneath the comment you’re citing and paste that URL link into your comment, so we can see the comment in the context of the entire previous post.

          Thanks.

          • Ellis

            Here’s the original article:
            http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ain-13954/

            • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Like I said below, your take on what that article, and the language you quoted, meant, was mistaken.

              Look at where Ben says:
              “At this point, I don’t know what to make of this, and I don’t know why Joba has seemingly lost three miles per hour on his fastball following a shoulder injury last August.”

              And then the language you quoted:
              “Furthermore, moving Joba to the bullpen simply isn’t the answer. If his velocity is lower now as a starter than it was last year also as a starter, it is illogical to assume that he would magically rediscover six or eight miles per hour as a reliever.”

              In the first quote, when he refers to a loss of about 3 MPH, he’s talking about what he lost compared to when he was a starter before the injury. Then later he says a move to the bullpen from the rotation wouldn’t magically result in a gain of 6-8 MPH. So clearly he’s not saying there would be no increase in velo if Joba were moved from the rotation to the ‘pen, he’s just saying the increase wouldn’t magically bring him back to the levels we previously saw from him out of the ‘pen. Implicit in what Ben wrote is that he’s not saying a move to the bullpen wouldn’t result in higher velocity than pitching him as a starter, but that he wouldn’t return to his old velo that we saw from him as a reliever. He clearly thought there was about a 3-5 MPH difference between Joba the starter and Joba the reliever.

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          You’re wrong. What the quoted text is getting at is that, if Joba’s velo was lower as a starter than it was as a starter in the past, then it would be unreasonable to think that his velocity as a reliever would be the same as it was in the past as a reliever. You missed the point, the text you quoted does not say that it’s reasonable to expect that Joba’s velo would be the same as a starter and as a reliever.

    • Pete

      did you watch him at all in 2008 as a starter? He was consistently 95-99 with the FB, had good command, etc. etc.

      He then got hurt, and then jumped up about 50 innings the next year. I would be very surprised if the yankees didn’t repeatedly tell him last year not to throw as hard as he could due to the risk of repeated injury.

      When he has gotten hit as a reliever it hasn’t been just because of velocity, but for much of this year, he has been 90-93 on the FB as a reliever. I don’t think you can necessarily say that he simply throws harder in relief. Yes, as a reliever he is more likely to be able to throw harder on every pitch, and to locate each pitch better, but as a starter, pre-injury, he was able to “gear up” in big spots and bring the same heat and command he had in relief.

      I personally think that after the injury and last year’s extended workload, the organization wanted to give him a chance to regain his velocity by “airing it out” in the pen. We all knew it would take until around June before he started hitting those high digits, and probably until mid-late July before he is consistently upper-90s, but, as we saw in 2008, starting does not magically take his velocity away. Granted, he’ll be more likely to sit in the 94-96 range (assuming he is able to really regain his old velo, and this isn’t just a blip of false hope, which is a hefty assumption to make), but if he’s healthy and his arm is back to where it used to be, he shouldn’t have a problem adding velocity on important pitches as a starter. IIRC, he was consistently 97, and hit 99, in the 7th inning of that 7 3 0 0 1 9 performance at Fenway back in July of ’08.

      If he can’t get back to that, it’s not because he’s starting, it’s because he hurt his shoulder and simply isn’t able to consistently attain that velocity anymore, in any role (which would explain why he hasn’t been able to in relief this year).

  • Joe V.

    He’s thrown 98 a few other times this year, but it’s been a pretty rare occurrence. Look, before his shoulder injury in Texas, he was throwing upper 90s as a starter (check the pitchfx numbers). So this idea that he can only throw that hard as a reliever is simply untrue.

    • Simon B.

      He averaged higher as a reliever in his first couple years, but his starter velocity wasn’t much below it. In fact, the difference between his starter and reliever velocities was probably [i]less[/i] than what you usually expect from a pitcher when getting the bullpen boost.

      Just reason #431 why “Joba to the bullpen” was and proves to be a really dumb idea.

      • Pete

        average velocity is only half the story, though. With two outs, nobody on, and a four run lead against a weak team in the 3rd inning, it’s more important that you can still pitch well 3/4/5 innings down the road than getting that particular batter, so it would make no sense to even try to throw max effort there. In a one inning relief appearance, there’s no reason not to.

  • http://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    Quite the outing by New Farnsworth last night. It fills me with confidence.

  • Russell NY

    I think there is a problem with this website. I have been waiting for the gameday to update but it is stuck on one out.

  • Old Man

    I agree 100% with Pete for what it’s worth. On another note, I only use computers for creating excel models and surfing the internet. I basically know nothing. Is pitch f/x a feature of Gameday? Is it reliable? Is it worth getting if I’m watching most of the games on TV but want to check gun readings etc.? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Yeah, pitch f/x is based on a number of high-speed cameras placed around the ballpark. The YES gun is reflective of the pitch f/x speeds. It’s freely available in Gameday.

      • Pete

        pitch f/x = the shit.

      • Old Man

        Oh wow, thank you very much. I didn’t realize the YES gun is reflective of the pitch f/x readings and I didn’t realize pitch f/x is free (like I said, I’m old as dirt). The pitch graphic above really caught my eye. That is going to enhance my enjoyment of baseball. Thanks.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          You can teach and Old Man new tricks.

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

          We’re more than happy to help answer any questions you have, Jamie Moyer.

          (couldn’t resist)

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            Ahaha awesome.

            • Old Man

              in computer years Moyer is pushing 100 years old. I’m more in my 70s (minus my excel proficiency). I can email and surf the internets. Shocked I was able to post this comment.

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

                It’s all good.

                Welcome aboard!

                • Old Man

                  Thank you. Appreciate the help with pitch f/x.

              • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

                True story: my Grandpa died of an aneurysm when he used a computer for the first time.

                (This is not actually a true story.)

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

      Umm… yes. That’s my reply to whatever statement or question you were posing with that link.

  • Kyle Litke

    Joba was throwing 98 earlier this year. I remember at another message board I go to, people were excited because he had been pitching decently up to that and suddenly he’s hitting 98 with good control and a good slider (it wasn’t as sharp that night but was effective enough). The problem is the same thing that’s been Joba’s problem since the shoulder injury…the next time out he was down to 95, then he was at 93, then he was at 96, then he was ranging from 91 to 96, then he had no command, then his slider had no break, then, etc. etc.

    It’s good to see him do it but until he repeats it for a few games in a row, I’m just not getting excited. We’ve seen this from him before; his issue isn’t that he’s incapable of ever getting to 98 again, it’s that he’s horribly inconsistent and can’t maintain it from appearance to appearance anymore.

    • Goodtimes-to-be-a-BJOBBER

      Can RAB provide your hit site total on a BJOBBER article compared to a different topic…

      My point has always been for the last three years that he isn’t amongst the five best starters that the yankees have – period.

      Doesn’t that mean he’s either a reliever, AAA starter, or a trade bait? I think I can win that debate…which if I do proves my point.

      Joba would be a starter for the Royals….

      • Mike HC

        He was last year. He was before they traded for Javy this year. He was in 2008 before he got injured and he probably was in 2007 too.

        So the only year he has not been our top 5 starter is this year, after they traded for Javy. That is why he is the pen this year. Lets see what happens next year with injuries and Pettitte and Javy as free agents/retirement.

      • Pete

        In 2008, which you apparently missed altogether, he was at worst the yankees 2nd best starter, behind Mussina. He was better that year than Pettitte or Wang. In 2009, Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte were better than Joba, but nobody else was. This year, we happen to have one of the best starting rotations we have had in recent memory (since 2003, at least), especially now that Javy seems to have gotten back on track.

        Nevertheless, there’s a very good chance that Vazquez will be overvalued in arbitration next year, and I highly doubt that the yankees sign him and his diminished velocity and command a multi-year deal. So there’s a pretty good chance that he’s gone. It’s also possible that Pettitte retires after this year, so even if we filled the hole Vazquez left with Cliff Lee (which is by no means a given), there could still be an empty spot. And there’s a perfectly decent chance that Sabathia leaves after 2011.

        In other words, if the yankees have a cheap quality starter, or potential quality starter who is MLB-ready, on their hands, then it would be really, really stupid to leave him in the bullpen. For Joba to be as valuable as a reliever as he was as a starter in ’09, he’d have to regain his ’07-’08 form. It would seem, however, that were he able to regain that ’07-’08 reliever form, he’d be able to regain that ’08 starter form. And if he were able to pitch again as a starter at his ’08 levels, then it would be basically impossible for him to match that value in relief.

        In other words, there are two plausible reasons (decent ones, anyway) for his pitching in the bullpen: either he is using the shortened appearances and lessened overall workload as an opportunity to try to regain his old velocity and form in order to take it into starting next year, or he simply isn’t, and never will be, good enough to start again, because he won’t ever regain his old form.

        In the end, this is what it will come down to: we either have Joba the starter, who may or may not issue his fair share of walks but should still be able to maintain a fairly high level of production, kind of like Scott Kazmir in his prime, or a modestly effective, but inconsistent reliever who is prone to both walks and home runs, but will occasionally really “have it”.

        What won’t happen (barring some unforeseen event or massive stupidity on the part of the FO) is Joba becoming an elite, shut-down, dominating closer with four good pitches including a FB and SL that both grade out at or near 80 on the 20-80 scale. Because that pitcher can start, and well. To leave him in the bullpen would be an enormous waste of resources. The real question is, will we ever get that pitcher back?

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

          /Petelongresponse’d

          • Pete

            I suppose I should save my long, thorough responses for people who might actually read them.

  • MattG

    I’m happy to tell you what happened, as it has nothing to do with the extra time to warm up. The Yankees have discovered that you can rehabilitate a guy’s fastball by giving him a year in the pen. It worked beautifully with Hughes last season, and, although it is taking longer, it will work beautifully for Chamberlain this season. Less innings, less pitches, and regular work = more velocity. By the end of the year, 98 will be the norm, and in 2011 Joba can follow Hughes into the rotation.

    • Mike HC

      Sounds good to me. Where do I sign?

  • NextYankeeDynasty

    He was sitting at 96 and hit 97 twice in his previous outing…