Archive for Joba Chamberlain
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mercifully, the All-Star break is over and Yankee baseball is back. It has been a tumultuous season so far, featuring serious injuries to several important contributors and maddening underperformance with runners in scoring position, but also plenty of pleasant surprises. Despite everything that has gone poorly for the Yankees this season, they are in great position to make a playoff run. At 53-33, the Yankees own the best record in the majors, despite playing in a division where no team is below .500, and they are eight games up on their nearest competitor. They lead the league in home runs and wRC+, though they are only 6th in runs scored. Despite injuries to Michael Pineda, Andy Pettitte, and CC Sabathia, they are 2nd in the league with a 3.71 xFIP, largely driven by the pitching staff’s 8.45 strikeouts per 9 innings. With this strong first half in the books, I figured I would take a look at some of the storylines to watch for the second half, which will play an important role in determining if the Yankees can hold on to their division lead.
MVP candidate Cano
Robinson Cano is having a monster season for the Yankees so far, and is well on pace to eclipse his career highs in a number of offensive categories. He has slugged 20 home runs with a wRC+ of 150, and his fielding is significantly improved according to UZR (small sample size warnings apply). All this combines to make Cano the 7th in the majors with 4.3 fWAR at the midway point. If the season were to end today, Cano would be a strong candidate for AL MVP, along with usual suspects Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz, and rookie phenom Mike Trout. Cano’s 2012 production has been very impressive, and it will be interesting to see if he can sustain this form going forward. Recent history suggests that it is difficult for a Yankee player to win the award unless he is far superior statistically to his competition, and right now, Cano is not in that position. Nonetheless, if Cano continues to mash and some of his competition begins to fall off (such as Trout) or get hurt (Hamilton), Robbie would be in good position to win his first MVP.
Coming into the season, significant questions abounded about Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, and whether they would be able to stick in the rotation as consistent contributors. Michael Pineda’s Spring Training shoulder injury weakened the Yankees’ rotation depth, and put increased pressure at least one of the Hughes-Nova duo to emerge as a solid mid-rotation starter. Hughes got off to a poor start to the season, and both players have had serious problems surrendering the long ball, but of late, both have settled in. They’ve shown the ability to strike batters out (8.31/9 for Hughes, 8.16 for Nova) and limit walks (2.08 for Hughes, 2.69 for Nova) a combination that limits the numbers of runners on base when the inevitable longball comes. Both have been able to pitch deep into the game, which is important for keeping the Yankee bullpen well-rested and effective. Hughes and Nova have shown that they can pitch in the low-4 ERA range, and with the Yankee offense, they will win a lot of games. However, it remains to be seen if they can improve their statistics by cutting down on the home runs. They were surrendering them at an unsustainable pace earlier in the year, but have improved in that area recently (particularly Hughes). While both have looked very good of late, Hughes in particular has teased Yankee fans throughout his career with strong performances only to regress significantly, and hopefully he can avoid that outcome.
What will Joba bring to the table?
While most of us gave up on Joba Chamberlain being a 2012 contributor after his awful trampoline-related ankle injury, his impressively quick recovery has him in position to return to the Yankees sometime in August. Chamberlain, looking noticeably svelte, was recently clocked as high as 97 in his first outing in the Gulf Coast League, a sign that his velocity has returned following Tommy John Surgery. The velocity bodes well for his ability to be a successful bullpen contributor this year, but command could be a big question. Joba never had pinpoint control to start with, and it is often said that command is the last thing that comes back to a pitcher who has had Tommy John. Joba’s willingness and ability to use his devastating slider is another question that he will have to answer. The pitch is his primary 2-strike weapon to earn strikeouts, but often pitchers who have Tommy John will cut down on their slider usage, to avoid putting additional strain on their elbow. If Joba does have to throw fewer sliders, he may need to have another offering to flash so hitters can’t just sit on the fastball. I don’t expect Joba to be back to his old self right away, but the good news is that in a bullpen with Rafael Soriano and David Robertson, he won’t be relied upon to pitch in high-leverage situations immediately. If he earns those innings with his performance, great, but if he has some struggles as expected, they will hopefully be in fairly low-pressure situations.
Is Russell Martin this bad?
Russell Martin’s offensive production has fallen off across the board compared to 2011, and he is currently batting below the Mendoza line with an anemic .181 average. After being exactly league average in 2011 (100 wRC+), Martin has fallen to being 20% worse than the average hitter (80 wRC+). Outside of a strong couple of games against the Mets, Martin really hasn’t put together a strong stretch this season that might give hope that he is starting to come out of it. The unfortunate sign is that Martin’s struggles have actually lasted longer than this season. He started strong in 2011, but his numbers dipped dramatically after the first two months. When we see a player struggle for this long, there is always concern about whether the player is in decline or injured. While the 29 year-old Martin seems too young to be over the hill, the physical toll of catching every day could accelerate this decline. I am hopeful that Martin can improve, but not optimistic that he will. If there is any consolation here, it is that his contract is up at the end of the 2012 season, and the Yankees caught a break by having Martin turn down their 3-year extension offer in the offseason. This also means that the Yankees will likely be in search of a new catcher for the 2013 season.