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It's Time To Shut Down Joba Chamberlain

Bronx Baseball DailySenior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2009

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 20:  Starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees reacts after giving up a sacrifice fly in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners on September 20, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Chamberlain was supposed to pitch five innings last night and get the win, what would have been his first since Aug. 6 against Boston.

I’ve said it all year that Chamberlain should be in the rotation because he had a chance to be a better starter than relief pitcher. This is not the case anymore.

Chamberlain lived off his 98-plus MPH fastball out of the pen, and kept hitters guessing with his nasty slider. As a starter, he’s completely different. His 93 MPH fastball has no control whatsoever, and has a knack for winding up in the middle of the plate and the sweet spot of the batter’s bat.

Jorge Posada faults the Joba plan for Chamberlain’s failure.

"It’s tough to pitch when you don’t know what’s going on," Posada said. "It is hard. You pitch three innings and they give you 10 days to pitch. It’s tough to pitch like that."

This is entirely untrue, and is just a made up excuse because he has no explanation. He’s been pitching every fifth day since Aug. 25, and he is told how many pitches he will get ahead of time.

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The fact is, he is not an effective starter anymore. When he used to throw 100 MPH, it didn’t matter where the pitch ended up, as long as Posada could reach it. Now, when he’s throwing 93, any major league hitter will make him pay, especially a guy like Ken Griffey Jr.

If you were watching, most of the hits are on fastballs right over the middle of the plate.

I don’t know if his arm is injured, but he will not be a successful starter in the majors with a 93 MPH fastball with no control. He said his slider’s velocity was "great", which it was, but his nibbleness was way down. Compared to a game out of the bullpen in 2007, his nibbleness was much lower as a starter for all of his off-speed pitches.

Let’s face it, there is no way Chamberlain is going to build up his arm strength to full starter form for the playoffs. And there is no way the Yankees will have any confidence in him to make a start in the ALCS (if they get there).

So he should be in the bullpen, right? Wrong. The Yankees have already messed with his arm too much this year. There is no sense in risking his arm’s health for next year.

My proposed plan would be to shut him down for the rest of the year, and have him start next year as the closer for Triple-A to make sure he can gain his velocity back up to triple digits. I will unequivocally state on this blog that he has no future as a starter in the major leagues if he can’t learn to control his fastball.

I know he is still young and I have heard all of the comparisons, but when I see him make starts, he just doesn’t have it in him.

Unfortunately, Joe Girardi has other ideas.

"This is not an easy game," Girardi said. "He’s a young starter, and we’ve seen him really good and we’ve seen him struggle. He’s one of the guys that has gotten us to this point and we’ll continue to go with Joba."

 

This article is also featured on lenNY’s Yankees.

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