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Where Does Joba Chamberlain Rank Among the Plethora of Young Starters?

Steven ResnickSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 14:  Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees stands on the mound as Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rounds the bases on his solo home run in the second inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on September 14, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Joba Chamberlain is just 23 years old and is about to turn 24 and he's in his third year in the Major Leauges. In his rookie year he appeared in 19 games and looked like the answer to become the eigth inning guy and possibly the closer of the future for the Yankees.

Yet, in 2008 Hank Steinbrenner had different ideas about Chamberlain. Instead of being the eighth inning guy, he wanted him as a starter.

Chamberlain did appear in 42 games and made 12 starts which meant he had 30 relief appearances.

In his relief work he went 1-2 with a 2.31 ERA, pitched 35 innings, struck out 44 while walking 14, gave up just one homerun, had a WHIP of 1.171, struck out 11.3 per nine innings, and had a 3.14 strikeout to walk ratio.

As a starter he went 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA, pitched 65.1 innings, struck out 74 while walking 25, gave up for homeruns, had a WHIP of 1.3, struckout 10.2 per nine innings, and a 2.96 strikeout to walk ratio.

Chamberlain has had an up and down year in his first full year of starting. For most teams he would have either been sent down to work out some issues such as his control issues, but since the Yankees have such a loaded offense they can afford to have him be in the back end of the rotation.

Lately, the Yankees have been limiting the amount of pitches as well as innings that Chamberlain has thrown making it so he's had some short outings. Which, actually may hurt Chamberlain's confidence more than anything.

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This year so far in 28 starts for Chamberlain he has a record of 8-5, a 4.39 ERA, pitched 143.2 innings, struck out 122 while walking 68, a WHIP of 1.510, given up 18 homeruns, struckout 7.6 per nine innings, and a 1.79 strikeout to walk ratio.

When examining the best games this season for Chamberlain in terms of innings it has come against teams that are not playoff bound. He did have one solid outing against a good team and that was against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the other games were against Cleveland where he went eight innings, Oakland he went seven innings, two solid outings against the Detroit Tigers one of seven innings and the other 6.2 innings.

But, beyond those five games there are only one other game that he pitched where he went more than six innings and that was a 6.1 inning effort against the Atlanta Braves.

His average innings per start is just five innings. Therefore when Chamberlain is starting the Yankees know that there bullpen is going to be ready in case Chamberlain runs into some struggles.

So, with the issue of not pitching very many innings and being limited towards the end of the season the question is this where does he rank for pitchers who are at the age of 26 or younger?

Let's first start with 10 starters in that age group it's not necessarily in order by rank:

1. Tim Lincecum (25)

2. Felix Hernandez (23)

3. Just Verlander (26)

4. John Lester (25)

5. Zach Greinke (25)

6. Matt Cain (24)

7. Matt Garza (25)

8. Jeff Niemann (26)

9. Scott Feldman (26)

10. Yovani Gallardo (23)

So, there's at least 10 right there. Some other names that seem to have a better grasp of starting at this point in their careers include:

Brett Anderson (21)

Tommy Hanson (23)

Rick Porcello (20)

Ricky Romero (24)

J.A. Happ (26)

Zach Duke (26)

David Price (24)

Tommy Hunter (23)

Sean West (23)

Joba Chamberlain (25)

Clayton Richard (26)

There's 21 starters on this list. The question is where does he rank with all these pitchers?

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