New York Minute

August 26, 2009 12:25 PM

Joba Frustrates Again

Well now, this whole Joba Chamberlain move to the Yankees starting rotation is working out swimmingly, don’t you think?
Watching the big right-hander with the even bigger attitude during last night’s 10-9 debacle of a loss to the Texas Rangers was like seeing someone without a clue trying to hang wallpaper. It was ponderous, frustrating and, just when you thought success was at hand, the whole thing came unraveling and he had to start over.
Last night’s outing may have been the most frustrating of his career. Staked to a four-run lead in the first inning, Chamberlain quickly proceeded to give it all back and then some. He labored through four innings on 96 pitches, giving up nine hits, seven earned runs and three walks.
He was removed after a brutal fourth inning when the Rangers scored five times to take a 7-4 lead. He threw 44 pitches in the inning, which began to unravel with a two-out walk to Ivan Rodriguez. He then allowed five straight singles.
The seven earned runs were a career-high against Joba, and all of them came with two outs. Chris Davis, hitting eighth in the Texas lineup with a .206 average, had two hits against Chamberlain, who never seemed to find his rhythm.
"It's frustrating [to not get that third out], but at the end of the day I just didn't do what I needed to do to help this team win," Chamberlain said. "And that's the frustrating part: I just didn't have it to finish [the inning]."
The Yankees have to bear some of the responsibility for the struggles of Chamberlain, who had his fourth straight subpar start. He has not pitched beyond the sixth inning in those starts, and has allowed 19 earned runs in 20 innings. Control has been a big issue, as Joba has walked 15 batters during his four-game rut and had just 55 strikes in last night’s 96-pitch outing.
It was Chamberlain’s first start since Aug. 16, when he labored through five innings against Seattle. Manager Joe Girardi and his staff have been carefully limiting Chamberlain’s innings. The Yankees haven’t disclosed how many innings they are going to allow Chamberlain (8-4), but it is expected to be near 160. He has thrown 130 2/3 innings this season and is projected to make his next Sunday against Chicago.
"We have him scheduled starting for the rest of the season," Girardi said. "At times, he will go on extra rest."
What makes Chamberlain’s recent struggles more perplexing is his brief surge after the All-Star Break. Chamberlain returned from the break confident and fearless, and it looked like the Yankees had finally solved the Joba Riddle. He allowed two earned runs in 21 2/3 innings after the All-Star Break, and looked like the Chamberlain who dominated opponents as a set-up man for Mariano Rivera. Since then, however, Chamberlain has returned to the frustrating, inconsistent pitcher he was during the first half of the season.
No one knows where it goes from here for Joba and the Yankees, but if the team is to make a deep October run, it will need to solve the Joba Riddle over the next five weeks.

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