Joba Chamberlain: Built for the Bullpen

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Joba Chamberlain: Built for the Bullpen
Al Bello/Getty Images

What feels like the never-ending saga, still continues to drag on.

 

Does New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, belongs in the starting rotation, or the bullpen?

 

The 24-year-old power pitcher has been stuck in the purgatory of pitching, as his administrators and managers have struggled to come to an agreement on where to send him.

 

The New York Yankees have not handled this situation well at all.

 

As a matter of fact, they have arguably handled this about as bad as they could have.

 

The Yanks have continuously left their once highly touted prospect in a state of confusion. He has never been able to come to grips with what his role is going to be.

 

Chamberlain’s repertoire of pitches is clearly more suited for the bullpen in a late inning role than in the starting rotation.

 

His radar gun burning upper 90s fastball and wicked slider are the perfect two-pitch combination for a closer role.

 

The intimidating full-size pitcher also just has that closer look to him on the mound. If it wasn’t for all-time great, Mariano Rivera, he would probably be the Yankees closer right now.

 

Chamberlain made his debut with the Yankees in 2007.

 

He was used from the bullpen and quickly stood out as a force in relief, becoming a fan favorite and a strength of the team, only giving up one earned run and earning eight holds in his 24 innings of work.

 

Unfortunately for Chamberlain, he will be remembered in his initial season for the bug incident in the postseason at Cleveland, where the Yanks were eliminated in the Divisional series.

 

In 2008, Chamberlain got right back into his groove, but a controversial decision was made by the New York Yankees organization a couple of weeks into the season.

 

They wanted to put Chamberlain in the starting rotation, and so the chaos began.

 

Chamberlain’s numbers weren’t nearly as dominant as his stats out of the pen, but there were glimpses of hope with the occasional tremendous start that kept the experiment alive.

 

The 2009 season was a regressive season for Chamberlain.

 

He started in 31 of the 32 games he pitched in, but he was clearly not a dependable option for New York, as he was far too inconsistent.

 

He posted a below average 4.75 ERA and gave up more hits than innings pitched while he saw his strikeout to walk ration drop severely.

 

And now with the 2010 season about to begin, Chamberlain is still continuing to receive mixed signals from his surroundings.

 

He was in consideration for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training, but after being outperformed by teammate Phillip Hughes, the Yankees have once again announced Chamberlain will start the season in the bullpen.

 

Yet, the organization still is hesitant to confirm that the decision is permanent.

 

It is quite clear where Chamberlain belongs, the back end of the bullpen, But it seems that some higher-ups have their mind set that the rotation is where they want him to succeed.

 

Chamberlain has the mentality of a closer and the intangibles to be one of the elite closers in Major League Baseball.

 

It is quite inconceivable how the New York Yankees are still struggling to make a permanent decision with this issue.

 

They have continuously frustrated Chamberlain and his mentality has obviously been scattered around by the constant confusion.

 

What is more important or easier to find, a solid back of the rotation starter or an elite closer?

 

Chamberlain has shown that he is not built for the rotation.

 

He is inconsistent and a lot more prone to injury with the high demands of being a starting pitcher.

 

Chamberlain naturally fits the role as a closer. His fierce intimidating ways, mixed with his power and adrenaline rushing competitiveness, are exactly what is needed in the late innings of a baseball game.

 

It is no secret that, Mariano Rivera, arguably the greatest closer of all time, is getting up there in age and despite his great longevity, the Yanks will soon have to replace the legend.

 

Anybody who knows baseball, has to see that Chamberlain is clearly the solution.

 

The New York Yankees organization and fan base, better hope that it’s not too late, and that Chamberlain is mentally strong enough to overcome this obstacle the Yankees have created in his career over the past two seasons.

 

And most of all, they need to cement in place the fact that Chamberlain will be the setup man for Mariano until it’s time for him to take over the closer’s role for good.

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