Every sports fan has heard the cliche that a certain player “needs a change of scenery”. Well, that sentiment definitely applies to enigmatic fireballer Joba Chamberlain. After a breakout effort in 2008, one that actually started in August of 2007, the New York Yankees appeared to be in possession of quite possibly the AL’s most electric young right arm. However, by inserting the dominant setup man into the rotation in 2009, an experiment that was largely unsuccessful, the Pinstripers seemed to place Chamberlain on a path that ultimately led to little more than a plague of injuries and inconsistent performances.
Chamberlain will be attaining free-agent status in the coming weeks and almost certainly will be headed out of the Bronx. The 2013 season was another of mixed results for the 28-year-old reliever. Although he finished up with an unsightly 4.93 ERA, the promising “stuff” still showed up on a regular basis. According to FANGRAPHS.com, Chamberlain’s average fastball velocity was 94.7 miles per hour this year. His struggles came mostly on account of a career high 5.5 BB/9 combined with the hitter-friendly conditions of Yankee Stadium.
Perhaps, in a less homer-prone park, Chamberlain would rediscover the fortitude to bring the heat in the strike zone. He has managed a 3.32 ERA on the road since 2010. Turner Field is just that type of venue and the Atlanta Braves could very soon find themselves in need of a dynamic arm in the bullpen with Eric O’Flaherty, Luis Ayala and Scott Downs all headed toward free agency. On top of that, relief pitchers Jonny Venters, Jordan Walden and Cristhian Martinez are all arbitration-eligible injury concerns.
The Braves were linked to rumors involving Chamberlain before the July 31 trade deadline and sent scouts to take a look at him in New York. GM Frank Wren obviously did not pull the trigger on a deal back then, but should definitely consider extending a reasonable offer this offseason. With a contract at or below the $1.875 million earned this season, Chamberlain would come with little risk and has the potential to be a steal.