Champions on Display MLB

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where's Joba's Fear And Arrogance?

"You be cocky and arrogant, even when you're getting beat. That's the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance."
-- Crash Davis

That was the last piece of advice Crash Davis gave Nuke LaLoosh as the fireballer was leaving for the show in "Bull Durham."

Maybe Joba Chamberlain ought to sight down and watch that baseball classic because he seems to forgotten an important part of Crash's teaching.

With the exception of three starts following the All-Star break last season, we've seen Joba pitching only with fear. The arrogance, the hair-on-fire, uber-aggressive, attack the batter persona has been nowhere to be found.

It certain was nowhere near Fenway Park in Sunday's 9-7 season opening loss.

Now, Joba certainly wasn't terrible -- that's a description was seized by the fugitive pitcher from the Island of Misfit Toys, Chan D'oh! Park -- but he was far from the sensation that took the league by storm as a rookie in 2007.

Joba allowed one run on two hits and a walk in 1-1/3 innings, throwing 33 pitches.

It was a performance that left us wondering: What has happened to that rookie phenom? Where has his arrogance gone?

This isn't a physical problem; Joba's fastball was hitting 96 mph, according to's Gametracker. This is about what's going on in Joba's head -- and you can see it in his pitch selection. Chamberlain has fallen in love with his offspeed pitches, especially his slider.

While Gametrack failed to register 10 of Joba's pitches (likely curves and changes), it did pick up 13 sliders and only 10 fastballs.

Umm, hello? Does anyone else see something painfully wrong with this?

Instead of pitching with fear and arrogance, Joba's pitching with "fear and ignorance." (LaLoosh's witty retort to Crash)

There is a reason the fastball is called No. 1. It is the pitch that sets up everything else. It is the pitch that makes every other pitch more effective.

It also is Joba's best pitch.

We saw that when he came up in 2007. His fastball was so dominant, so lively that the hitters had to gear up for it and start their swings early. That made the slider deadly because hitters couldn't look for it and couldn't lay off it.

But Joba doesn't pitch like that any more. For some reason, he believes the slider is his best pitch, his out pitch.

And he's just wrong.

By throwing his slider so much -- and Sunday's 39.3 percent is way too much -- he's actually making that pitch less effective. He's giving hitters too much of an opportunity to see, identify and layoff that pitch.

In other words, he's allowing hitters to get comfortable at the plate.

It's time for that to stop. The Yankees need the old Joba back. The one who as a rookie wasn't afraid to challenge and attack hitters with his fastball. The one that had fun blowing hitters away.

The one who played this game with fear and arrogance.

Up Next
Tonight at Red Sox, 7:05 p.m., YES, NESN, MLB Network
A.J. Burnett vs. Jon Lester


Anonymous said...

i'm a sox fan... but secretly i wanted to see joba up against youk. might have inspired youk to knock one out of the park...

Kevin C said...

Joba is an adrenaline junkie. He will be fine come mid-summer.