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Joba Chamberlain May Have Pitched His Way Out of the Playoffs

Bronx Baseball DailySenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 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)

Despite what you think of Joba Chamberlain, the way the Yankees have handled him, and his future, it would be hard to argue that he has pitched well of late.

With a 1-4 record and an 8.25 ERA over his past nine starts, his spot on the Yankees playoff roster may be in jeopardy.

“He needs to declare himself,’’ Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “He’s no different than anyone else.’’

Chamberlain likely has two more starts during the remainder of the regular season. He hasn’t made it past the fourth inning in any start since Aug. 16, but the Yankees would like him to show them two things over his next couple of outings: that he can give them length and quality innings.

Recently, they started holding him back in his starts, often not allowing him to go past three innings. In his past start against Seattle, they were hoping he could go at least five, though, and he couldn’t make it.

If he can’t manage more than three innings in either of his next couple of starts, he could be a liability in the playoffs, and the Yankees might be better just leaving him home.

“Everybody loves his tenacity,’’ Cashman said. “But we’re going to take the best 10 guys. There’s no assumptions there.

“He’s put himself in a position where the manager has to make a decision that there’s not one guy ahead of him that he needs to give the ball to. He might not realize it, but he’s in competition with any number of guys to take the ball.’’

The Yankees' other options are Sergio Mitre, who pitched five great innings in relief the other night, or Chad Gaudin, who has been better than expected since becoming a Yankee. Alfredo Aceves, who didn’t pitch in a tight spot last night, could also be in the mix as a starter during the playoffs.

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