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Joba Chamberlain told MLB.com in November that he is looking forward to an uneventful 2013, at least in terms of making news for anything other than his pitching.
“It’s an opportunity to build on how I finished,” Chamberlain said of the coming season. “To know it’s still there and I’ve still got the ability to do that, I’m just looking forward to just going out there and not having to worry about anything.”
Chamberlain rejoined the Yankees in late July last season after rehabilitating from both Tommy John surgery and a dislocated ankle.
He struggled initially upon his return, but finished strong.
In August, Chamberlain was dreadful, posting an 8.59 ERA and 2.73 WHIP in 7.1 innings. But in September, he looked more like the Chamberlain of old, with a 2.03 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 13.1 innings. He also struck out 17 batters in September.
Overall, he posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.5 WHIP in 22.2 innings, with 22 strikeouts.
He was also solid in the postseason, pitching 2.1 scoreless innings over four appearances in the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles and the American League Championship Series versus the Detroit Tigers.
Bill James’ projections, posted at FanGraphs.com, aren’t overwhelming, but they do show a guy who will be a solid contributor out of the bullpen, something that has been hit-or-miss since the organization flirted with converting him into a starter in 2008-09.
James projects Chamberlain to make 43 appearances in 2013, with a 1.14 WHIP and 3.51 ERA. The appearances will likely end up being higher, provided Chamberlain can stay healthy.
We may never see the Joba Chamberlain who posted that microscopic 0.38 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with a 12.75 strikeouts per nine innings ratio in 2007, but if he can more closely resemble the guy who had a 1.17 WHIP and 2.31 ERA in 35 relief innings in 2008, the Yankees will be in a much better position to replace Rafael Soriano as a late-innings setup man.