The New York Yankees cannot rely on Joba Chamberlain if they want to make the postseason.
In Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees were down 3-1 when Chamberlain was brought in to pitch the seventh inning. He only allowed two hits and one walk, but one of those hits was a three-run home run off the bat of Adam Lind.
The Yankees eventually lost the game 6-2.
This is nothing new for Chamberlain. Unlike the few times Mariano Rivera has blown leads this year, there’s nothing shocking about a bad outing from Joba. He’s struggled with his control all season. Of the 14 pitches he threw, only five were strikes – and one of those ended up over the right-field wall. He’s allowed runs to score in four of his last six outings and the Yankees have lost the last seven games that Chamberlain has made an appearance.
The loss is not entirely on Joba. The lack of offense is most to blame for New York’s failure in Toronto, but the Yankees were still in the game at the time Chamberlain came in. They were only down two runs and they have proved they can come back late in games. They put up a four spot in the eighth inning the night before to take the lead and win the game.
But the home run Chamberlain surrendered to Lind obliterated the Yankees’ hopes for a comeback. You could sense how disheartening it was for the Yankees to watch the ball fly over the wall. New York loaded the bases in the ninth and managed to score a run, but it was too little too late.
Regardless of what the offense is doing, Chamberlain needs to be a stopgap out of the bullpen. Instead, batters are hitting him gap to gap. He’s hung breaking balls and left fastballs over the heart of the plate. He has repeatedly failed to protect leads or hold deficits, and the Yankees cannot turn to him if they want to make the playoffs.