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Joba Chamberlain’s chance to start will come next year

Feb 27, 2013, 2:16 PM EDT

Joba Chamberlain Reuters

Chances are that Joba Chamberlain is entering his final season with the Yankees. While he’s spent the majority of the last two seasons on the disabled list, he’s continued to amass service time and he’ll be eligible for free agency next winter at the tender age of 28.

The news yesterday that Chamberlain still thinks of himself as a rotation candidate makes it even less likely that he’ll remain in pinstripes. The Yankees obviously don’t see him in that role and haven’t for years. For what it’s worth, Chamberlain was far from bad as a starter early in his career, going 12-7 with a 4.18 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 221 2/3 innings over 43 starts. He did struggle to work deep into games, but he was effective more often than not.

Of course, that was before Chamberlain hurt his shoulder. He’s no longer the talent that he was when he entered the league as a brash 21-year-old reliever in 2007. He has been effective while healthy, though, posting a 3.47 ERA and a 46/13 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings the last two years.

Chamberlain is set to be a sixth- or seventh-inning guy for the Yankees in front of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera this year. Perhaps the one thing that would keep him in New York is a stellar setup campaign that would establish him as the heir to Rivera’s job. That might cause the Yankees to ante up and keep him around. If, on the other hand, he matches my guardedly optimistic projection — a 3.30-3.50 ERA in about 60 innings — he figures to be too expensive to re-sign for a non-premium role. And if he ends up struggling, well, then he may be long gone before even hitting free agency.

Regardless, Chamberlain will, for the first time, control his own destiny next winter. If he decides he wants to start, it could well cost him some money, but he shouldn’t have much trouble finding a team willing to give him a shot. For all of his injuries, Chamberlain still throws in the mid-90s as a reliever. He possesses two breaking balls, and he expressed an interest in throwing his changeup more. His ability to hold up as a starter would be in question, but the stuff is there to make him a decent one.

  1. vallewho - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Yes, it won’t be for the NYY. I hate to say it, but the crew at the NYY really manages to F-up pitchers in development. It really boils my blood every time they mention that the powers that be and the “pitching guru” down in Tampa have made a decision to go in a certain way with regards to a pitcher.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Connors is gone

      • vallewho - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        Good. Enough damage done.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      I’m somewhat curious as to whether or not Joba has an option left. If he really wants to start, send him to the minors to work himself back out. He becomes extra rotation insurance this year, his service clock is stalled (so the Yanks still have him next year) and if he pans out at all, he’s a cheap rotation option as they try to hit $189 million.

      • jwbiii - Feb 27, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        Chamberlain has all three options left. But he has more than five years of service time so he can refuse an optional assignment and the Yankees would have to decide whether to keep him on the 25 man roster or release him.

      • jwbiii - Feb 27, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Ok, I got that wrong (Bad memory! No beer for you tonight!). It’s Chamberlain’s choice, not the Yankees’. If the Yankees option him, he can accept it, refuse it and stay with the team, or declare free agency without termination pay. If he refuses the assignment, then the Yankees can go through the usual DFA/attempt to trade/waiver wire/outright assignment procedure.

  2. fanofevilempire - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I don’t think that starting is in his future, I think he will be a reliever.

  3. number42is1 - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    “He’s no longer the talent that he was when he entered the league as a brash 20-year-old reliever in 2007”

    Sorry… but this drove me nuts for like 5 minutes… he couldn’t have been 20 in 2007 and 28 in 2013. He was 22 in 2007.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Whoops. Yeah, it should have said 21 (technically he’s 27 in 2013… his birthday is Sept. 23).

  4. historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Attention, Stasburg, that is a less cool release face right there.

  5. Kevin Gillman - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    When I think of Joba, I think of 2007 when he couldn’t handle the pressure of midges on his face in the ALDS against my Indians. It changed the complete tone of the series when he gave up the tying run on a wild pitch. Ahhhh memories.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Couldn’t handle the pressure of the midges? Because not being able to pitch while your face is being swarmed is indicative of some lack of intestinal fortitude?

      • dondada10 - Feb 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        If memory serves me, the then Fausto Carmona ate several of those flies off his face in reptilian fashion.

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        Hey, he gave up the tying run, but Roberto Hernandez threw 8 strong innings against the Yankees, and he too had those midges on his face, so you tell me.

    • dcarroll73 - Feb 27, 2013 at 4:52 PM

      As Kevin stated, this was NOT a matter of guts, but rather this was a dangerous situation that the umps allowed to go on. What did Joba throw then, 97 mph plus? You Indian fans would be singing a different tune if he had lost one of those pitches and killed one of your hitters. The Yanks should have refused to continue due to clearly unsafe conditions, and if the umps ruled a forfeit, they should have fought it all the way. Personally I have always believed that one night somehow got in Joba’s head and diminished the confidence he’d had to be lights out up to then.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        The Yanks should have refused to continue due to clearly unsafe conditions, and if the umps ruled a forfeit, they should have fought it all the way.

        This game was the icing-on-the-cake for me that they should let Torre leave. How could he leave his team out there during the 8th Plague?

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM

        If Fausto Carmona could shut down the Yankees, then surely Joba could have. There is no excuse. If THAT was the defining moment of Joba being a completely different pitcher after that, then yes I would have to question if he truly had it to begin with.

    • tuberippin - Feb 27, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      Ahhh, the frailty and malleability of the human memory.

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:26 PM

        Forgive me if I don’t completely bow down to the mighty Yankees, and the now infamous “Jaba Rules”.

      • tuberippin - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        Oh, you’re forgiven. They were silly rules anyway; a grown man does not need to be handled with kid gloves.

        My post was in reference to your misappropriation of what constituted Joba’s miniature meltdown. I would argue it was less the gnats and the smothering humidity than it was a rookie’s (as Joba was at the time) inability to reign in his command, given that the tying run was given up via wild pitches and free passes.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    For a team trying to reduce payroll, they sure don’t seem all that interested in maximizing their assets. If Joba can stick as a starter, couldn’t he help a Yankees team set to loose 3 starting pitchers after the season? Joba has a better track record as a starter than Nova and a longer record than Phelps. He got hurt, then he got fixed. I never understood why Joba was damaged goods but Hughes is the heir-apparent in Yankee Decision Land.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:43 PM

      [huge caveat that I’m, obviously, not Cashman]

      But I don’t think they see him as fixed. I think they see him as a ticking time bomb with a shoulder ready to go at any moment. Years ago during the Circling the Bases time, I posted how Chamberlain’s stats through 43 starts were almost the exact same as Hughes’s through 43 starts, yet Hughes “won” the “competition” in spring training.

      As mentioned on, Chamberlain will walk at the end of the year and someone will give him a chance to start. Best of luck to him because it, unfortunately, won’t be the Yanks…

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      better track than Nova, I don’t think that is true.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:45 PM

        I could post the rest of the stats that would be more meaningful, but I will be lazy and quote

        Ivan Nova and his 4.41 ERA in 62 career starts is in camp competing for a rotation spot this spring while Joba and his 4.18 ERA in 43 career starts is not. Think about that. Nova has gotten 19 more starts (and counting!) to prove himself than Joba. – See more at:

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