Remember the Joba Chamberlain of 2007?
Back then, he was a sensation for the New York Yankees, and was nearly un-hittable. In 19 regular season appearances, he allowed only one run. That’s right — one. He also recorded eight holds, a save, and 34 strikeouts in 24 innings. He was easily the best setup man around for those 19 games, and he took the league by storm.
Now this year, Chamberlain has pitched in only 11 games, posting a 3.38 ERA and walking six in 10 innings. He has a decent ERA, but is nowhere near as dominant as his rookie year. So what happened to the Joba of 2007?
For one, I think it’s been his failed conversion to a starting role. GM Brian Cashman was too non-commital about Chamberlain’s role. At first he was going to be the setup man, then he was going to be a starter, now he’s just another arm in the bullpen. He hasn’t had a lot of consistency, and I think that this is one of the factors explaining his poor play.
In addition, a player with Joba’s talents should either be a closer or a starter, not just another reliever. To have him pitching fifth, sixth, and seventh innings would be a gross underuse of his skills. The closer spot on the Yankees is pretty much taken, so I think they should’ve inserted Joba into the rotation permanently. However, they’ve instead returned him to the bullpen.
The Yankees have been trying to defend Joba Chamberlain from injury, but I think it’s only slowed his career porogression. Chamberlain should be a starter, plain and simple.