When the bullpen door swung open in the 8th inning last night, it wasn’t Joba Chamberlain that came in to preserve the one run lead. Rather, it was David Robertson (and later on, Boone Logan). The move was a long time coming, as Joba had allowed runs in six of his last ten appearances and at least one baserunner in 14 of his last 15 appearances. The guy is as unreliable as they come right now.
While Joba has lost exclusive rights to 8th inning work, Joel Sherman says he is in no danger of being sent to the minors to figure things out. Allow me to excerpt his explanation:
What is not possible, at least for now, is sending Chamberlain to the minors for two major reasons: 1) The Yanks feel it would be a terrible message to bust somebody from main set-up man all the way to Scranton in one move, so they will try to fix him outside the eighth inning and 2) They do not believe Chamberlain is failing because of an attitude problem. Yankee officials actually consider Chamberlain a hard worker. In other words they are not looking at this how they viewed a situation with Melky Cabrera in 2008. That season the Yanks thought Cabrera had become lazy and that was a factor in his struggles, so they did demote him in mid-August to Triple-A.
Whenever Joba starts doing his tight rope act and gives up runs (or worse, the lead), our first reaction as fans is to want him shipped to the minors. It’s our natural, knee-jerk response. We claim to see him unable to repeat his delivery, as if we’ve been trained and have sufficient experience to spot such things, and want him to go the Roy Halladay route; all the way back to A-Ball and rebuild him from the ground up. As if that’s ever worked for someone besides Halladay.
Anyway, point is that the Yankees are doing what’s best not just for the team, but what’s best for Joba. They’re trying to fix him, and will now do so in lower leverage situations. There’s unquestionably a confidence issue here, he’s human, and after getting his ass handed to him basically all season it’s only natural that Joba would start to get down on himself. Going straight to the minors would probably only exacerbate that problem. The Yanks have until August 7th to send him to the minors unconditionally, and after that Joba will have to clear waivers to be demoted. That is almost never an issue, however.
For now, the Yanks will work hard to get Joba back on track in situations less crucial to the outcome of the game, and even then he’ll be on a short leash. If that doesn’t work, then the minors are the next step. They’re just not the first step.