Yankees Back To Square One With Joba
If the Yankees are the nursery and Joba Chamberlain the healthy, nine-pound infant being unnecessarily kept in an incubator, it'd be right about now that health services would barge in and shut down the quack establishment.
"Poor Baby Joba," they'd say. "You can't treat a healthy kid as if he's in grave danger."
The deconstruction of the maddening young Yankees pitcher is once again complete. Handed a 4-0 lead before he even took the mound in the second inning on Tuesday, Chamberlain was hopeless in the Yankees' 10-9 series-opening defeat to the Rangers.
Chamberlain wasn't necessarily hammered, but he was consistently unable to put away batters in the lackluster effort. This led to a pair of damaging two-out rallies by Texas in the second and fourth frames.
Chamberlain again shied away from leading with his fastball, nibbling himself to death in a 96-pitch, four-inning wretch-fest.
That makes four consecutive poor starts on the heels of the three fine starts that began the second half. In terms of development, Chamberlain—now in Year Three of the Joba Rules—is back to square one.
When you ask any starting pitcher to perform on eight days of rest, a spotty performance is possible. When you ask an inconsistent young right-hander who tends to distrust his stuff in the first place?
Seriously now. What are the Yankees thinking?
Oh right, I forgot. This is all to help Chamberlain. Because as we all know, if the 6'2", 230-pound hoss even sniffs 200 innings, he'll never be the same again.
Meanwhile, with Joe Girardi understandably wary of blowing out his bullpen, the splendid Chad Gaudin gets the ball and lets the game get to a point where even a four-run Yankees rally in the ninth isn't enough.
This is what I can't figure out: If the Yankees planned all along to limit Chamberlain this season, why did they structure the plan so his season would be fractured in the second half?
For me, a smarter plan would've been to limit him in the season's initial months. Put him on a program in the minors, pitch him out of the 'pen, have him plow fields in Nebraska, whatever. That way, he'd be pitching in a rhythm as you headed toward the stretch drive and playoffs.
Now, with the postseason a little more than a month away, Chamberlain is a complete mess. Do you really feel comfortable giving him the ball in a 1-1 series in the ALDS? Has he proven anything in the past month that says he should be starting a potential ALCS or World Series game?
The silver lining here is that Chamberlain has shown a knack for bouncing back when his struggles seem to be reaching a tipping point. Who knows, maybe he needs to fall apart before he takes any advice from Dave Eiland and company.
His propensity for sudden face-turns makes a great start against the White Sox on Sunday a distinct possibility.
The Yankees can only hope this will be the case; a successful outing that leads to another Joba run where he reminds you of how good he can be. And if he does rip off another good stretch, hopefully the team is smart enough to leave him be.
Sometimes you just have to let your baby go.
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