Monday, June 1, 2009

Game 51: Patience

Sorry, G&R fans, tonight's song comes from a Cleveland-based hip hop group called the MuAmin Collective. I had never heard of them before vowing to find a song other than "Cleveland Rocks" for this post, but they've got a smooth jazzy style reminiscent of Mos Def, De La Soul, Reflection Eternal, Common, Blackalicious and some of GangStarr's early work, and it's right up my alley. 


After Joba Chamberlain's last start in Texas, during which he was pulled in the fourth inning after giving up three runs, the predictable chorus of those who think Joba should be in the bullpen started chirping.

I don't think putting Joba in the 'pen is an indefensible position, not by a long shot. The Yanks are lucky to have in Chamberlain, a valuable weapon that could be deployed in one of two roles, neither of them are wrong. I just happen to think that one is less right.  

We saw Joba set the world on fire in 2007 as a set-up, consistently throwing 98mph with a disappearing slider. Those two pitches were good for 34 strikeouts in 24 innings and a 0.38 ERA. That's the lasting image of Joba Chamberlain people have as a reliever. 

If the Yankees could summon that Joba, even triple his ERA to 1.14 and assume that he could pitch about 60 innings a year, the B-Jobbers would have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately, that's not the Joba Chamberlain that is available to pitch for the Yankees this year. Present Joba still has minor shoulder problems that don't prevent him from pitching, but do make it difficult for him to warm up quickly and could lead to some of his first inning struggles. 

If he's throwing 95 in the first inning, let people throw that argument out there," Cashman said. "We haven't seen that yet, so why would they think that's going to suddenly happen by going to the bullpen?
Thank you, sir.

Folks, Joba is a good starting pitcher. In 21 starts over the past two years, he carries a 3.25ERA, has fewer than one hit and more than one strikeout per inning. Injuries are a concern, of course, but we don't know enough to say whether pitching out of the bullpen would actually diminish that risk or not. Hang in there, this situation will play itself out. Don't overreact to every below average start. Have a little patience. 

Opposing the Jobinator tonight will be Jeremy Sowers. The lefty is making his third start of the year for the Indians. His other two were marked by ineffectiveness and had a ERA of 12 when he was sent back down to AAA. He was recalled on May 23rd and appeared against the Rays in the infamous 11-10 game on May 25th, where the Indians scored 7 in the 9th inning to win it. Sowers needed only 57 pitches to coast through 5 scoreless innings of mop-up duty after Fausto Carmona got KTFO, and collect a win in the process. 

Which Jeremy Sowers will show up tonight? Was his success in his last outing just a function of the game being out of hand? We'll find out soon enough. 

One other note: The Yankees are carrying a Major League record 17 game errorless streak into tonight's contest and Angel Berroa is playing third base. See where I'm going with this?

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