Should the Yankees Be Trusting Joba Chamberlain in Big Spots?

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Should the Yankees Be Trusting Joba Chamberlain in Big Spots?
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Throughout the playoffs, Joe Girardi has turned to Joba Chamberlain in high-leverage situations. My question is, why? I haven't seen Chamberlain do anything to warrant trusting him in a big spot.

Chamberlain has been inconsistent all season and there is no doubt that David Robertson is a better option out of the bullpen at this point. Now, I'm not trying to knock Joba; I am actually not as down on his season as most people are. He was only slightly below average for the season, which is just fine for a back-end starting pitcher.

I understand that Joba was an extremely dominant reliever in 2007 and 2008, but he is a different pitcher in 2009. Last year, Joba was also an excellent starter. This year, not so much.

Since being moved to the bullpen at the start of October, Joba's average fastball velocity has been 95.3 MPH. While this is a significant increase from the 92.5 he averaged as a starter, it isn't the same as 2007, when Joba averaged 97 with his fastball. As a matter of fact, Joba threw almost as hard as a starter in '08. He had the highest average velocity of any starter in the American League at 94.9.

Since Joba's injury at the start of last August, he just hasn't been the same pitcher. This move to the pen simply hasn't erased that fact. He still looks like the Joba we saw start all year - a guy with no command or control of his fastball and inconsistent breaking pitches.

It wasn't easy to watch Joba miss spot after spot as a starter, and it hasn't been any easier watching him do it in high-leverage situations coming in from the bullpen, either. Until last night, Joba's results hadn't hurt the Yankees, but he shouldn't have been trusted in that spot in the first place.

If the Yankees need nine outs from the bullpen, they should try to get all nine out of Hughes and Mo. If that isn't a possibility, Robertson is the guy they should go to in the seventh inning, with Coke or Marte coming in if needed against a lefty. That's what was working over the last few months of the season, why change it up now?

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