Archive for Joba Chamberlain

(Rob Carr/Getty)

It’s easy to make too much of one game in baseball, especially when you’re talking about a game like yesterday’s. The Yankees clobbered the Orioles to wrap up an important ten-game stretch in which they went just 4-6, but winning that final game in blowout fashion heading into the off-day sure has a way of making everyone feel like things are going to be okay. The club isn’t out of the woods yet though, far from it.

With 22 games left to play, the Yankees still have a number of issues to sort through. The middle relief remains shaky, Mark Teixeira‘s calf is going to keep him out for at least another few games, a number of other key lineup cogs are slumping, CC Sabathia still isn’t pitching as expected, and both the Orioles and Rays remain hot on the Bombers’ tail. Yesterday’s win was both stress-relieving and encouraging, with signs that maybe a few of those issues are starting to sort themselves out.

Curtis Granderson
Granderson’s extended slump has been well-documented around this parts. He took a 4-for-34 skid into yesterday’s game and was hitting .207/.297/.410 with a 31.7% strikeout rate in his last 300 plate appearances. That’s basically half a season worth of below-average production from the club’s second-best hitter a year ago. Curtis simply wasn’t doing enough, which is why Joe Girardi did not start him either Saturday or Sunday against the Orioles.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to swing the bat,” he said to reporters yesterday. “I feel like I’m getting balls to hit and putting good swings on them, but I wasn’t able to do much with them for whatever reason. It’s just baseball being baseball.”

Granderson came off the bench yesterday and did something he was unable to do the day before: he produced. Three hits in three at-bats, including a solo homer to center and a two-run double to right. The two-run bloop to shallow left off a left-hander was his softest hit of the day but arguably his most impactful. It was just his third three-hit game of the season and they felt like his first three hits in about two months. If he’s able to build off this and strong contributing more to the offense, it’ll be a huge during the final weeks of the schedule. Curtis can do a lot of damage when right.

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Joba Chamberlain
The Yankees have been looking for a reliable non-matchup middle reliever to couple with David Robertson and Rafael Soriano for about three months now, and there was a lot of hope that Joba would be that guy once he came off the DL. He was anything but reliable at first, allowing seven runs on 20 baserunners in 6.2 innings during his first seven appearances. The stuff was there, the mid-to-high-90s fastball and wipeout slider, but he was making way too many location mistakes. That’s not uncommon for guys coming off Tommy John surgery.

Very quietly though, Joba has been rounded back into form. Yesterday’s six-batter, five-out, four-strikeout appearance put an exclamation point on a road trip that featured 4.1 strong innings. He allowed one hit during the trip, a solo homer to Mark Reynolds on Thursday. Reynolds has been clobbering Yankees’ pitching all year, so it’s not like Chamberlain’s alone here. Other than that, he walked one, punched out eight, and generated 14 swings and misses out of 76 total pitches (18.4%). This doesn’t mean he’ll turn into another dominant late-inning arm or anything, but Joba has shown signs of shaking off the rust — he told reporters yesterday that he made a slight mechanical adjustment as well — and has started to assume more responsibility in a bullpen that needs as much help as it can get.

Cory Wade
This one kinda goes hand-in-hand in with the last guy. Wade was dynamite in April and May before completely collapsing in June, to the point where you had to wonder if he was even salvageable. He was that bad. Wade spent a little more than two months in Triple-A and pitched reasonably well (2.27 ERA and 4.12 FIP in 31.2 innings) before returning as a September call-up. In two appearances this month, Wade has retired all eleven men he faced, include six in two innings yesterday. He looked an awful lot like the guy he was last year and earlier this year against the Orioles.

It’s easy to write someone like Wade off because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of an above-average reliever. He doesn’t come out of the bullpen throwing gas with a knockout breaking ball, he relies on changing speeds and locating with a variety of offspeed pitches. He’s the Freddy Garcia of relief pitchers. Expecting Wade to return to his previous level of effectiveness is probably unrealistic, but these two most recent looks are encouraging at the very least. If he can step back up and give the team another reliable right-handed reliever for those middle innings, it’ll be a huge addition down the stretch.

Late-Inning Rallies
This isn’t exclusive to Sunday’s game but is worth mentioning. The Yankees put together late rallies in three of the four games against the Orioles, including the two losses. Five eighth inning runs on Thursday tied the game before the bullpen blew it, then Saturday’s two-run ninth inning rally was cut short at one when first base ump Jerry Meals blew the call on a not so bang-bang play. Two runs in the seventh and five runs in the eighth put yesterday’s game out of reach. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what inning the runs are scored in as long as the Yankees push enough across to win, but stringing together hits and scoring multiple runs in an inning had been an issue up until this weekend.

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As I said, one big win has a way of making you forget about all of the team’s problems for at least a day. Granderson has shown flashes of busting out of his slump before so maybe this is just another tease. Relievers and their performances are fickle, so who knows what Joba and Wade can contribute going forward, if anything. If nothing else, at least we saw some positive signs in the finale against Baltimore, which is a lot more than what we had in previous weeks.

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Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees are considering a demotion to the minor leagues for Joba Chamberlain given his recent struggles. The club is expected to get CC Sabathia back off the DL this weekend and they’ll need a roster spot.

Joba, 26, has put 20 men on-base in 6.1 innings since returning from Tommy John surgery and an ankle fracture earlier this month. His velocity is more than fine — averaging 94.2 mph according to PitchFX — but his command is nonexistent, pretty typical for guys coming off elbow surgery. The Yankees could send him down to Triple-A or even Double-A (to avoid the traveling circus) for the minimum ten days before recalling him when rosters expand in September. Ten days will do little to help fix his command, but it’ll keep him away from meaningful games.

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In the wake of the Chad Qualls-Casey McGehee trade, the Yankees will activate Joba Chamberlain off the DL in time for tonight’s game. He was scheduled to make what was likely his final minor league rehab appearance with Double-A tonight. The Yankees need another non-matchup reliever in the worst way, and Joba certainly fits the bill. Welcome back, big guy.

Categories : Asides, Transactions
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7:56pm: Via Marc Carig, Joba will make one more minor league appearance just to sharpen up before joining the Yankees.

7:27pm: In his latest minor league rehab appearance and first with Double-A Trenton, right-hander Joba Chamberlain allowed a single and struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings. He entered the game with two outs and the bases empty by design, then struck out the side in the following inning after the leadoff man singled. Mike Ashmore has some video of the outing right here. Joba hit 98 on the gun and threw 23 of 30 pitches for strikes.

Thunder manager Tony Franklin would not confirm, but it sounds like Joba may remain with Trenton through Tuesday and presumably made another appearance. His 30-day rehab window expires one week from tomorrow, and now that he’s conquered back-to-back days and mid-inning entrances, it shouldn’t be long before Joba rejoins the big league bullpen.

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Got some late-evening injury news for you, courtesy of Marc Carig and Erik Boland

  • Alex Rodriguez (hand) had a cast put on today and isn’t expected to miss any more than eight weeks. No word on the earliest possible return, but I suppose six weeks is a reasonable estimate. Either way, the Yankees expect to get him back before the end of the regular season.
  • Nick Swisher (hip) came through today’s workout fine but Brian Cashman said “he’s not a player for us tomorrow (against the Red Sox).” He didn’t rule out a return Saturday or Sunday but insisted the team will play it safe.
  • Joba Chamberlain (elbow, ankle) will throw a bullpen session for the big league coaching staff tomorrow and make another minor league rehab appearance — with Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Empire State — on Sunday. Cashman acknowledged that Joba is “getting closer” but wouldn’t say when exactly he’ll be activated.
Categories : Injuries
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Right-hander Joba Chamberlain allowed an infield single in an otherwise uneventful and scoreless inning in his latest minor league rehab appearance for High-A Tampa. The baserunner was thrown out trying to steal second before Joba got ground balls to second and first to end the inning. It was his first set of back-to-back appearances during his rehab after throwing a scoreless inning last night. No word on his pitch count or velocity.

The plan now calls for Joba to meet the Yankees in New York so he can throw a bullpen session in front of the coaching staff. He could be activated shortly thereafter but no decision has been made yet. They need to see how he feels and stuff, plus he’ll probably get at least two and maybe three days off following the back-to-back. I’m guessing that if all goes well, he’ll rejoin the team on Monday. Just a guess though.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Right-hander Joba Chamberlain retired all three batters he faced in his latest rehab appearance for High-A Tampa tonight. He got a fly ball to left, a pop-up to second, and a ground ball to second. No word on his velocity or pitch count, but chances are we’ll get a report before the end of the night as usual.

Erik Boland reports that the plan is for Joba to pitch again tomorrow night, assuming he comes through tonight’s appearance fine. It will be the first time he’ll pitch in back-to-back games during his rehab. The other day we heard that he could be activated before the end of the month if he comes through the back-to-back well. Fingers crossed, Joba’s getting very close to returning to the team.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Via George King, there’s a chance the Yankees will be able to activate Joba Chamberlain off the DL before the end of July. He’s going to throw a bullpen session on Monday and then be tested in back-to-back games. If he comes through that fine, he’ll rejoin the team.

Joba allowed two runs in two innings in his latest minor league rehab outing yesterday, but was again clocked in the mid-90s with his fastball. His 30-day rehab clock expires on August 9th, but it’s not surprising he may be activated sooner just because he’s a reliever and doesn’t need to be stretched out to throw 100+ pitches. Four of the team’s seven relievers right now are specialists and we saw how problematic that can be when Cody Eppley had to face a left-handed batter with the winning run on second last night. If he manages to come back at some point in the next ten days and be even 90% of the guy he was pre-Tommy John surgery, Chamberlain will be enormous help.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Pitching for High-A Tampa, right-hander Joba Chamberlain allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings this evening. He surrendered a homer to the first batter he faced and the second run came around to score with the help of a passed ball a sacrifice fly. They’re the first runs and baserunners he’s allowed in his four rehab appearances. Joba struck out one — the final batter he faced — and threw 19 of his 32 pitches for strikes. No word on the velocity yet, but I’m sure we’ll get an update later tonight.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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4:07pm: Via Erik Boland, Joba apparently hit 98 this morning. He’ll throw two innings for High-A Tampa on Friday.

1:30pm: In his third minor league rehab game, right-hander Joba Chamberlain struck out two batters in a perfect inning. The other out came on a ground ball and for once there was no error made behind him. Joba has not allowed a hit or a walk in four rehab innings so far. No word on the pitch count or velocity, but I suspect we’ll hear about it at some point today. There’s a decent chance Chamberlain will be make his next appearance at a higher level, perhaps High-A Tampa.

In other news, Eduardo Nunez played shortstop in the same game, his first game action since going down with a thumb injury back in May. He played three innings in the field, handled one ground ball without incident, and grounded out to first in his only at-bat. He probably won’t need much more than a week of rehab games before rejoining Triple-A Empire State.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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