Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Joba Less Than Optimal

Someone explain to me why the Yankees were better off having Joba Chamberlain at less than 100 percent start that game.

Joba, coming off an outing in which he left after two-thirds of an inning after being struck on the right knee by a line drive, allowed three runs on four hits in four laborious innings in a 7-3 loss to the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday.

Chamberlain walked four, struck out five and threw 46 of 84 pitches for strikes.

But it was clear from the start that he wasn't 100 percent and was still being affected by the shot he took off the right knee.

Now, Joba said after the game that his knee was fine and Joe Girardi said Joba wasn't favoring the knee, but we heard similar things about Chien-Ming Wang's ankle earlier this season. So forgive me if I find the Yankees' word about injuries to be less than credible. We have to trust our eyes.

Joba's fastball was consistently at 89-91 mpg, occasionally hitting 92-93 mph. He normally he is at 93-94 mph, topping out at 95-96. Further, he wasn't sharp with his command. He struggled to put hitters away and by the second inning, he had thrown more than 50 pitches.

And I have to believe that his struggles were caused by that bruise on his right knee. Joba generates his power and control from his legs, particularly his right leg, which he uses to push off the rubber and drive the ball to the plate.

But when that leg is compromised, such as by a bruised knee, Joba just can't generate his normal power and control, making him less effective.

So here's the $1 million question: Why not let Wang make this start instead and either push back Joba to Friday or skip him this time through with the day off Thursday? Wang was rushed back to the majors and set up to be the emergency starter if Joba couldn't go anyway, and he's scheduled to start Friday now as it is. So why not buy Joba the extra time to get fully healthy, especially when there are six starters on the roster?

Now, it's not a given Wang would have been effective. Heck, he might have been awful, but he is back in the majors and is going to pitch. Swapping Joba and Wang should not be a big deal.

But let's say for argument's sake, Wang isn't himself yet. Well, that means the Yankees very well might have two short outings by their starters this week when they might have been able to keep it at just one by pushing back Joba.

Still, Joba managed to limit the damage and the Yankees did rally to tie at 3 on Mark Teixeira's homer in the fifth and an RBI double by Hideki Matsui and RBI single by Francisco Cervelli in the sixth.

However, Alfredo Aceves finally had a bad outing, allowing three runs in 2+ innings to take the loss.

Meanwhile, the offense that was so devastating Monday couldn't keep it up. It pounded out 12 hits, stole five bases and had runners on in every inning against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, but produced just three runs, going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranding 12.

And then there's Melky Cabrera, who injured his right shoulder running into the wall on Ian Kinsler's leadoff triple in the first. The Yankees are calling it a strain and have an MRI scheduled for Wednesday. I hope the results will be negative and Melky can return in short order. He's just become that important.

Runners In Scoring Position
2-for-12 (.167)
115-for-416 (.276)

Up Next
Wednesday at Rangers, 8:05 p.m., YES
A.J. Burnett (2-2, 5.28 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (1-1, 4.82)


Dave said...

Or better yet, since you have too many people for the rotation, put Joba back in the bullpen where he belongs.

Aviv said...

And how many four-run innings does Lester have this season? How about Joba?