Why Joba Chamberlain isn’t in the mix for a rotation slot
Joba Chamberlain’s weight gain may have attracted attention this afternoon at Yankees camp, but Brian Cashman also offered a blunt assessment of Chamberlain’s projection after his August 2008 shoulder injury — the biggest reason that Chamberlain is in the bullpen and not being considered in a wide-open fight for the back of the rotation.
The subject was touched upon by Cashman to some extent in January, but we’ve heard cries from countless fans who can’t understand why Chamberlain will be used in the sixth or seventh inning while the Yankees look to Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia for starts.
So, here’s a refresher: Cashman reiterated today that whatever transpired in Texas that day has altered Chamberlain’s velocity as a starter compared to what he can be as a reliever.
“It’s maybe just changed the equipment a little bit from what he was as a starter, to what he is as a starter now,” Cashman said. “But it hasn’t affected him out of the bullpen whatsoever. He used to throw 95-plus [mph] from pitch one as a starter. He doesn’t do that now, but he can do that out of the bullpen.
“And that also happens with the evolution of players, regardless. Some guys come out of the Minor Leagues throwing gas, and eventually in their mid-20s start to settle in, and their stuff backs off over time. It could be that too.”
Cashman said that he didn’t think Chamberlain’s mechanics had been affected by the injury.
“He’s always had trouble repeating his delivery,” Cashman said. “That was prior to the Texas issue; that’s always been an issue for him. I wouldn’t trace any mechanical changes to what took place in Texas. As you can see, he’s not the cleanest mechanical delivery, that’s all. Some guys are like that.”
Chamberlain called it a “dead issue,” saying that he hasn’t had any problems since. But Cashman said that in 2009, when Chamberlain was being used as a starter, the Yankees noticed that his velocity was down as a starter.
They weren’t the only ones, as reporters soon caught on and began asking what had changed with Chamberlain. Cashman said that Joe Girardi would have meetings with Chamberlain, asking him if he was trying to pace himself as a starter.
“We never had those conversations before,” Cashman said. “If you’re saving your bullets, don’t. You’ve got to empty the tank, right from inning one. He would try, but — it just wasn’t there. At some point, you accept it. This is what you see out of the rotation, this is what you see out of the bullpen, they’re radically different.
“I get a kick out of when people [say], ‘Oh, they’re so indecisive, they don’t know what to do with him.’ No, the stuff used to be equal. It’s not equal anymore. What the real reasons are, who knows?”