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In a Joba State of Mind

NEW YORK - JULY 19:  Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees celebrates the final out of the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers on July 19, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Andrew WeaverCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2009

Just when you thought he couldn't pitch out of the fifth inning, Joba Chamberlain has now put together consecutive starts pitching at least 6 2/3 innings for the first time in his career.  In fact, his past two starts may be his best back-to-back performances during his short time in pinstripes.

 

Joba has won these past two starts.  The last (and only) time he accomplished this before was almost a year ago today, when he beat Baltimore on July 30, 2008, five days after that memorable seven inning, nine strikeout victory at Fenway.

 

Here are his lines from these wins:

7/24/2009 - W 8-3 – Oak – 7.0IP – 2H – 1R – 0 HR – 3BB – 6K

7/19/2009 - W 2-1 – Det – 6.2IP – 3H – 1R – 1HR – 3BB – 8K

 

So, after the break, he’s averaging just under seven innings, under three hits, one run, less than one home run, three walks, and seven strikeouts per start.  It’s a small sample, yes, but considering he’s started less than 40 games in his career, it is worth noting.

 

His last two starts before the All Star break:

7/10/2009 – ND (L 10-6) - @LAA – 4.1IP – 9H – 5R – 1HR – 1BB – 4K

7/5/2009 – ND (W 10-8) – Tor – 3.2IP – 9H – 8R – 2HR – 1BB – 1K

 

In those starts, Joba averaged five innings pitched, nine hits, over six runs, at least one home run, one walk, and under three strikeouts.

 

Oh, one other stat I forgot to note: The number of fist pumps after the break. There have been two in these last two games, which is exactly two more than his previous two starts.

 

Joba looks different on the mound now.  He’s working faster and pitching with authority.  His fastball is registering at 96, not 91.  His slider is making hitters whiff.  He has that look in his eye—reminiscent of the dog days of summer 2007, when he forced the Yankees’ “Powers-That-Be” to fast track him to claim the setup role for their big-league closer.

 

Leading up to the break, Joba was making Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman ponder whether his time on the mound would better be suited for Scranton, rather than the Bronx.

He was struggling with his command, getting into early inning jams, nipping at the corners of the plate, over-thinking every pitch, and bottling up his true mound presence.  Most importantly, he was squandering leads and hindering the Yankees chances to win.

 

It seems Mr. Chamberlain is trying to put an end to such brooding.

 

What happened in those four days off?  What happened to the Joba we saw, Rules and all, in 2007?

 

In an interview on Yankees.com, Joba said, “I just got back to being myself…It was fun to get away from baseball for four days. I think that was the best—to get those four days to get my mind right and get back to having fun and the confidence and attitude I know I have.”

 

Confidence.  Attitude.

 

THAT is what we’ve been missing.  Early on, maybe Joba was too concerned about how other perceived him on the mound—from opposing teams to the media.

 

Now, after taking a breather and spending time at home, it seems like Joba (circa 2007) may be back and better than he was back then. 

 

Why may be he better?  Well, the Yankees get him for seven, eight, and nine innings of 95+mph heaters and high 80s mph sliders—not just one.

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