Yankees: Not Getting the Job-a Done
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 21, 2012.
Joba Chamberlain has struggled since returning from the DL.
Since his advent into the major leagues in 2007, the questions surrounding Joba Chamberlain have never truly ceased. Reliever or starter? Are the “Joba Rules” too rigid? Will he recover from Tommy John surgery? Will the freak injury that sidelined him earlier this season end his career?
The uncertainties do not appear to be ending anytime soon. Since Chamberlain’s return to the Yankees on August 1, he has done nothing but give up hits and runs, sporting an ERA of 9.45 as a result of surrendering 15 hits in just 6 and 2/3 innings.
His latest disappointing outing occurred Monday night against the White Sox. With the Yankees trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, Chamberlain was called upon to stop the bleeding. Instead, he immediately surrendered an RBI single to Dayan Viciedo. The Yankees rallied in the top of the sixth to regain the lead, but Chamberlain gave it right back when Gordon Beckham slammed a homer off a 94-mph fastball that grabbed way too much of the plate.
Granted, he wasn’t the only Yankee reliever who didn’t get the job done on Monday; Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, and Boone Logan couldn’t hold leads either. But those pitchers, by and large, have been extremely reliable for the Yankees this season. Joba has not. In the series finale against the Rangers last Thursday, his appearance yielded similar results amid a chorus of boos in the Bronx.
It seems like Chamberlain–and the Yankees–may have rushed his return. There’s no doubt his velocity is back; his fastballs have consistently been in the mid-90s. But his location is all off. Either he’s shooting the ball straight down Broadway, like the pitch to Beckham, or his sliders are not close enough to the strike zone to get the batter to swing.
He also needs to get a grip on his emotions on the field. Knowing Joba has always been flamboyant on the mound, I can deal with his exuberant fist-pumping when he gets a big out, even though that hasn’t happened yet this season. But I don’t care what anyone says; he hit Kevin Youkilis on purpose on Monday after Beckham’s home run. By indulging in his own childish vendetta, Chamberlain put the game in jeopardy by putting the go-ahead run on base.
Is it beyond the realm of reason to send Chamberlain to the minors for a bit while he works out these issues? It seems that his status as former Yankee fastball phenom is keeping him here. Think about it: if any of the other relievers I listed before posted Joba’s numbers, would they still be in the majors? Cory Wade was sent down to the minors earlier this season after posting a 6.48 ERA, giving up 42 hits in 33.1 innings pitched, despite an excellent 2011 season. Chad Qualls was gone in the Casey MacGhee trade to Pittsburgh after posting a 6.14 ERA in only 8 games. But Joe Girardi continues to employ Chamberlain in tight spots during important games.
If Chamberlain continues to pitch the way he has been, he is on pace to give up 80 hits in the 33.1 innings it took Wade to be sent down to the minors. I’m thrilled for Joba that his career is safe, but how many more Yankee losses is it going to take for him to get back on track? The fact that he needs the work cannot come at the expense of the Yankees’ record, especially with Tampa creeping closer in the standings. (They are currently only four games behind.)
Chamberlain, on the other hand, insists he belongs here. “It’s frustrating because my velocity is there and my stuff is there,” he said. “I’ve got to keep on building. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. Life is a lot a harder. You’re gonna get knocked down.”
Yes, Joba, at the end of the day it is just a game, but it’s a game you’re getting paid a lot of money to play, a game on which your family is depending, and a game the rest of us are paying a lot of money to see. It’s a game, but it’s also your life. “At the end of the day,” shouldn’t you do anything you can to get it done right? For your sake and ours?
Back when he first got injured, the Yankees mentally and physically prepared themselves for a Joba-less season. Perhaps he can better serve his team by working out his issues by being apart from them for the time being.