The Yankees have put Joba Chamerlain in the bullpen, but is that the right move? Many people disagree with their move, but not me. What the Yankees are doing is not only smart, but its the right move.
Last year, Chamberlain came on the scene in the bullpen. In twenty four innings pitched, he had a combined ERA of .38 with thirty-four strike outs, two wins, and one save. He was unbelievable in his pitching and took command every time he walked up to the mound. Chamberlain brought that fierce pitching that New York has been missing for awhile.
Along came spring training and he would be tested as a starter for the first time since his days in college. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out like Yankee fans would have hoped. He pitched seven and a third innings with a combine ERA of 6.14, picking up one win, striking out four, and walking four. Though these aren't terrible numbers, they weren't what the Yankees were expecting. The Yankees then moved him back to the bullpen and he was back to his old ways. In the bullpen, he pitched two and a third innings, picking up another win. He brought is ERA down too 4.66, striking out five, walking one, and not allowing another hit since returning to the bullpen. Don't get me wrong, i want Chamberlain to become a starter as much as anyone, but he isn't ready yet. After his first game back in the bullpen against the Blue Jays, he looked like his old self. "It felt great," Chamberlain said. "Just getting going, it's like riding a bike. It didn't take me very long to get going. My arm actually warmed up quicker than I thought it would. Being able to take my time, I tried to make it as realistic as I could.
"Whats the difference between Chamberlain the starter and Chamberlain the set up man?
First, he has an amazing fastball and slider, but a good starter has more than two pitches up his sleeve. He has been working on a change up and a curve ball this spring, but they can still use some work. In a little more time, he could perfect them to add more depth to his pitching style. Once he has mastered his other pitches, the Yankees wont have to worry about him tiring out so fast from throwing the heat for six innings.
Chamberlain feels more confident as the set up man then as the starter. On the back end of the game, he can throw as hard as he wants to end his inning. In doing that, he takes command at the mound and strikes batters out with ease. He didn't show the same confidence as a starter, something that he will need if he is to become effective.
What about Johan Santana, he was a set up man and look at him now. He is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game; why not Joba Chamberlain? Johan had good control of all his pitches when he became a starting pitcher; this is where Chamberlain is lacking at the moment. With more work he could be as good as good or even better than Johan Santana.
As much as I want to see Chamberlain as a starter, i know the Yankees did the right thing by putting him in the bullpen. Think what you want, but when the Yankees are up by one against the Red Sox and it gets to the eighth, who would you rather take the mound. Until he has control of all of his pitches, and is confident enough to start and be just as effective, I'm going to to say Joba Chamberlain should remain in the bullpen.