New York Yankees: Sending Down Preston Claiborne Is Not A Smart Move

By Gavin Ewbank
New York Yankees
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

For the third time this season, Derek Jeter will come off the disabled list and rejoin the New York Yankees on Monday when the team opens up a three-game series against the last place Toronto Blue Jays — whom the Yanks are 12-1 against this season.

As part of typical protocol when you bring a player back off the DL, you have to clear space on the roster for said player to be activated. In Jeter’s case, the Yankees optioned RHP Preston Claiborne to Triple-A Scranton.

Claiborne was originally called up by the Bombers back in April when Joba Chamberlain went on the DL with an oblique injury. Claiborne had pitched well enough to keep his spot on the team when Joba returned.

As all you Yankees now know, Joba has not been pitching well since returning against the New York Mets on May 30.

Claiborne, on the other hand, has been one of the Yankees’ better arms out of the bullpen, usually enter the game in a mop up role, while also being used as a normal reliever in any close, late-game situation.

Yet, for some reason, when a spot on the roster needs to be cleared up, it’s Claiborne, not Joba, getting called into Joe Girardi’s office, being told to please pack his bags and get on the next train out of the Bronx, and down to Moosic, Pennsylvania — the home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

But why? That seems to be a question being raised by many Yankees fans, including myself. Let me give you some perspective into the numbers that disagree with the move the Yanks continue to make.

Joba has only pitched more than two-thirds once in his last six relief appearances. His role with the Yankees has diminished into being the mop-up man, or closing out a lead of four or more.

But on some occasions, he’s not given the freedom to pitch with a four or more run lead. On Aug. 20 against the Blue Jays, he entered with a four run lead in the ninth. After retiring the leadoff hitter, Joba walked the next batter he faced, and was quickly removed by Girardi.

Why are the Yankees going to pitch him with a four-run lead in the ninth if they’re only giving him a lease long enough to only let one man on base? It’s because they just don’t trust him that much anymore.

Then, of course, there is this to mention: Claiborne’s ERA this season is a mere 2.78, while Joba is sporting an ERA of 4.46, and it hasn’t dipped below 4.50 since June 3, when it was 3.09.

Clearly, there’s something with this move that the Yankees are seeing better than the rest of us. But luckily for Claiborne, all MLB rosters will expand to 40-men come next Sunday, meaning he’ll only be out of the majors for a week at most.

But still, a week without having Claiborne in the bullpen, and instead having Chamberlain is a risk the Yankees are willing to take — even if I don’t agree with it.

Gavin Ewbank is a Yankees writer for Rant Sports. Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter for more Bombers coverage.

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