Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Joba's Off Night

"I could go on for days and days to tell you how bad I was. Plain and simple, I was terrible. There's no getting around it. I've got to do a better job of keeping my team in the game and not try to battle myself the whole time." ~ Joba Chamberlain, talking about his performance last night
If you want to take a pessimistic look at what happened last night, there's plenty to get riled up about. Coming off of a game where a line drive hit his shin, Joba's fastball velocity was down, and he gave up nine baserunners in four innings. Scarsely more than half of his 84 pitches went for strikes. For the sixth time in nine starts, he allowed a home run. 

On the bright side, however, just as his career line would have predicted, Joba struck out more than one batter per inning. Joe Girardi could have very easily let Joba come back out for the bottom of the 5th, but chose the cautious route, allowing critics to point to the fact that he only lasted four frames. It wasn't like he was getting torched or had already hit 100 pitches. 

What's important to note is that Joba's bad outings are rarely that bad. He gave up 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings in his second start of the year and 4 runs in 5 2/3 against the Red Sox. Of course, neither of those two are going to pass for solid outings. But if you are going to have a bad start, it's obviously better not to give up many earned runs, regardless of how few innings are thrown. That way, the bullpen theoretically has a chance to keep the other team from scoring, even given how unlikley the Yanks' relievers have made that seem recently.

It's also heartening to hear a 23 year old take responsibility for a bad performance like he did in the quote above, something one Yankee prospect seemed to have quite a bit of trouble with. He didn't make excuses about the rain delay, the umpires' strike zone or bad luck. Even when things go wrong, Joba says the right things. After last night, his ERA is still 3.97 and he's been the second best starter on the Yankees. 

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