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2008-06-08 15:27
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

In his first major league start last Tuesday, Joba Chamberlain was both inefficient and undermined by his pitch count. The Blue Jays entered the game with a game plan of taking pitches to get Chamberlain out of the game, and it worked like a charm. Chamberlain is a swing-and-miss pitcher who has thus far in his major league career succeeded by fooling hitters with nose-diving sliders and blowing them away with fastballs that are often above the strike zone. By letting those pitches go by, the Jays were able to draw four walks and drive Chamberlain from the game after just 2 1/3 innings despite picking up just one hit, a weak single through the infield.

Today, with a higher pitch limit and facing a less accomplished team, Chamberlain faced 18 batters before walking one, and pitched into the fifth inning despite throwing just 16 more pitches than in his previous start. In his first start, Chamberlain threw just one more than half of his pitches for strikes, but facing the Royals today, he threw 68 percent of his 78 pitches for strikes. In his first start he threw just two curveballs and otherwise stuck to his fastball and slider. Today, he threw eight curveballs and three changeups.

Chamberlain has thus far displayed a tendency to use those secondary pitches early in the count to get ahead and set up his two out-pitches. Of the eight curveballs Chamberlain threw today, five were first-pitch called strikes and a sixth was a called strike on an 1-0 count (the other two were taken for balls). One of the two curves he threw in his last start was also a first-pitch called strike (the other was a ball). Of his three changeups today, one was a first-pitch called strike and the other two were thrown back-to-back on 0-1 and 1-1 (the first, obviously, was a ball, the second was fouled off to get him to 1-2).

Chamberlain's first changeup came during his second time through the Royals' order. The back-to-back changes came against Kansas City leadoff hitter David DeJesus as Chamberlain turned over the order a second time. DeJesus was Chamberlain's last batter of the day and wound up walking on a curveball at the end of an eight-pitch confrontation. That was Chamberlain's only walk of the day and it was obvious at that point that the big righty was winded. Working beyond his previous limits in 95-degree heat, Chamberlain maintained his fastball through the first four innings, hitting at least 98 miles per hour in each inning, but didn't get his heater above 96 in his final frame, and confessed to tiring at the end of the game.

Chamberlain was staked to an early 2-0 lead when Bobby Abreu followed a first-inning single by Derek Jeter by crushing a 2-1 fastball from Royals' starter Zack Greinke into the upper deck in right field. The Royals got one of those runs back in the second when Alex Gordon led off by singling at the end of a seven-pitch at-bat, was moved to third on a single by Yankee Killer Ross Gload, and scored when a fastball diving down and in to Joey Gathright got past Jorge Posada (much like the one that got past Jose Molina in Chamberlain's previous start, both ruled passed balls).

DeJesus led off the third inning with a double, but Chamberlain got a groundout and a pop out without DeJesus advancing to third. He then locked horns with Jose Guillen. Five of the seven pitches Chamberlain threw to Guillen were sliders. Two were taken for balls, two were fouled off. The fifth, a full-count attempt at an inning-ending strikeout, was a hanger up in the zone and was launched into the left field stands for a two-run homer, Guillen's third in two days and the only significant mistake Chamberlain made all day.

After walking DeJesus in the fifth on his 78th pitch of the day, Chamberlain was relieved by his tag-team partner Dan Giese. Giese got Mark Grudzielanek to fly out, but then sent DeJesus to second by overthrowing Jason Giambi on a pick-off throw and escaped the inning without DeJesus scoring only because Giambi made a great diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Mark Teahen.

From there, however, Giese cruised pitching two hitless innings, his only baserunner coming when Miguel Oliva struck out on a pitch in the dirt, then made it all the way to second base as the ball skipped past Jorge Posada.

Giese was immediately rewarded as Johnny Damon led off the fifth with a triple past a diving DeJesus in left field and scored on a game-tying Bobby Abreu groundout. The Yankees took the lead in the sixth when Jason Giambi led off with a homer off Greinke that sailed into the tunnel between sections 37 and 39 in the right field bleachers. The Yanks added some insurance in the seventh against lefty reliever Ron Mahay when Damon and Abreu singled and Alex Rodriguez plated them both with a one-out double (though Alex was thrown out trying to make it a triple). Jose Veras and Mariano Rivera pitched the eight and ninth to seal the 6-3 win.

Giese and Chamberlain have now combined for two quality starts in as many turns and Giese has compiled one on his own between his two relief appearances (6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K). The Yankees should keep Giese, a lifetime reliever who was stretched out as a starter in the minors this year, in the major league pen as the long-man. That would allow Ross Ohlendorf to move into the short, late-game role for which he was prepared in spring training. The Yankees have said they've envisioned Ohlendorf in that role as short stints allow him to get his sinking fastball into the mid-90s. With Chamberlain out of the pen and into the rotation, the time to move Ohlendorf toward the back of the pen is now. As for Chamberlain, his next time out, he'll be allowed to throw up to 95 pitches, which should be enough for him to turn in a legitimate start.

Comments
2008-06-08 17:35:36
1.   Eirias
And look who is in 3rd place in the AL East.
2008-06-08 17:35:46
2.   Eirias
Excellent write-up, btw.
2008-06-08 19:05:21
3.   ny2ca2dc
Great write up as always, and I completely agree with the assessment of Giese (and Ohlie). The Yanks have stumbled on a perfectly servicable long reliever (it would seem). The only question is, who to send out in his place? I suppose you could just leave it as it: Rivera, Farnsworth, Ramirez, Hawkins, Ohlendorf, Veras, Giese, and option Britton to SWB when he comes off the DL. Of course, I'd really like to see Hawkins traded - anyone think he could fetch a Reed Johnson/Kevin Millar type (e.g. a RH 4-corners guy - one that could pinch run would be perfection)? Seems like he ought to (maybe throw in Moeller), and this team needs some RH thump more than it needs another mediocre RHRP, especially one without options. Although, I suppose it could easily be argued (I'm lookin at you Mattpat) that Farns should be sent away before Hawk. I'd rather have Britton than Hawk or Farns.
2008-06-08 19:29:39
4.   Mattpat11
I fear Karstens will be called up to be long man soon
2008-06-08 19:36:02
5.   RIYank
Cliff, do you think this signals the end of the Farnsworth Experiment -- at least as the 8th inning guy?
2008-06-08 20:58:50
6.   Cliff Corcoran
5 Sadly no. Farnsworth had an ouchie in his bicep, which is why Giardi gave him two days off. I think Girardi's more devoted to Farnsworth than Torre was because Giardi's convinced he can be the dominating pitcher he was with the Cubs in 2001, despite the fact that Joe also caught Kyle in 2000 when he had a 6.43 ERA and 2002 when he had a 7.33 ERA.
2008-06-09 05:22:57
7.   horace-clarke-era
I note 95 pitches expected next time, which is what I guessed (I said 90-95) last week when people were lamenting taking 3-4 WEEKS to get Joba up to 'normal' starter levels. Banterers, he is there in THREE appearances, that is 10 days from first outing. Assuming he doesn't get shelled next time, of course. The transition seems to have been smoothly handled, despite all the grumbling and given our starter situation (my own main worry right now) feels necessary, both for competing this year and setting up next (since he needs 140 innings this year to be primed to go from April).

Agreed on Giese, though obviously 2 appearances can't be called a serious data sampler. He certainly deserves to stick right now, and IPK would be better starting in AAA accordingly, until someone gets hurt. Interesting on Dorf, the 'read' on his effectiveness. I didn't know that.

My guess is the 8th will be a movable feast, er famine. Depending on who went the day before, who is sharp (hah!)... and Farns will be a part of it. Till and if Cash trades for a serious set-up guy, by which I mean a closer somewhere willing to pitch the 7th-8th. Or a Shields of yesterday.

2008-06-09 05:38:00
8.   Just fair
Big ups to Veras. He looked pretty damn good yesterday. Mid 90's on the gun with a breaking pitch that had guys buckling. Goood stuff. Lone live ChamberGiese.
2008-06-09 05:49:29
9.   ms october
i'll echo the great write-up and assessment cliff.

5 6 the quote from girardi on krazy kyle is hilarious to me: "his bicep was a little cranky"

8 yeah veras has looked pretty good. i always thought he could be good, but had absolutley nothing to back it up.

i was not enjoyng the pen the last few weeks (maybe not that long, but it seems like a long time). i thought their being over-worked combined with who they were was being exposed.
but it sounds like some pieces may fall into place - giese as a long man seems like it has potential.
hopefully that allows edwar, veras, and ohlie to get some high leverage shorter stint innings.
it also sounds like bruney is progressing, though i still don't put a lot of stock in him (health wise) just yet.
now if there were only a way for home run kyle's bicep to stay cranky and to dfa hawkins.

2008-06-09 05:58:05
10.   mehmattski
I admit what concerns me is location. I had Gameday loaded while watching the game and there was a clear difference between when Joba was pitching and when Greinke was. The way Greinke was pitching, he was hitting locations, and had clear plans against each hitter- pitch this guy away, that guy inside. For Joba, though, his pitches were all over the place. In his post-game comments, David DeJesus echoed this, calling Joba "nothing special" because he was missing his locations with his breaking pitches. A lot of his sliders ended up in the dirt, and the fastball was erratic too- including the passed ball, which while correctly scored was definitely Joba's fault.

Next time out I'd definitely like to see an improvement with location. With a team more patient than the Royals, he could have walked 6 or 7 men today and been done after three innings.

Luckily, the Houston Astros are not a patient team...

2008-06-09 06:14:58
11.   horace-clarke-era
10 Agreed, actually, which is why the fair target for Joba this year ought to be an era of 4ish and 6 innings a start next month, not RoY expectations. He doesn't look wild, but he isn't anything like sharp with control yet.
2008-06-09 06:17:03
12.   RIYank
10
The slider wasn't exactly pinpointed, though I'd say he had it where he wanted it in the first two innings. The curve was better: 5 out of 7 of the curve balls were in the strike zone (and I think batters watched all five of those for strikes). He also had the change-up in there, though he only threw two of those.
2008-06-09 06:38:43
13.   mehmattski
12 Well, one of the changeups ended up in the dirt, and then Posada came right back and had him throw another for a strike.

That's another thing, the kid needs to stop shaking off Posada. At one point Posada called for a slider and Joba shook his head. Posada called for the slider twice more before Joba finally threw it, for a strike.

Maybe Posada told Guillen the slider was coming, a la Crash Davis. He scrambled that son of a bitch!

2008-06-09 06:50:02
14.   Bama Yankee
I'm heading out for my first ever visit to Yankee Stadium. Looks like the Chamber of Commerce has ordered up some hot and humid southern weather to make me feel right at home. ;-)

Let's go Yankees!

2008-06-09 06:56:55
15.   Shaun P
14 Bama, hope you have as great a time as I did last Thursday.
2008-06-09 07:00:15
16.   Dimelo
Man, it seems like LoHud (specifically Pete, as per NoMaas) and NoMaas aren't playing nice. I love it!!!!!

Go get'em Pete!!!

(In the other Petie's voice)
Who is this Lane guy? What are his credentials? I bury dat cockroach!!!!

2008-06-09 07:05:18
17.   Sliced Bread
Have a great time, Bama.

It's so hot... Mo will be introduced to "Enter Glassman."(in violation of Pavano's trademark)

2008-06-09 07:08:41
18.   ms october
14 have fun bama.

16 that's an interesting little soap opera.

13 i think he would be better served to stop shaking off the catchers so much.
from your earlier post in 10 are you more worried about his approach in terms of his gameplan or his execution?

2008-06-09 07:22:20
19.   mehmattski
18 Well, it's clear from his constant shaking off that his gameplan and Posada's differed in many respects. Since we don't know all the pitches that Posada was calling, we don't know exactly what the gameplan was. But, David Cone seemed pretty impressed with the choices that Joba and Jorge made yesterday- mixing in pitches, dropping in curves for first-pitch strikes, and going to the change in the third time through the order.

So I guess my beef is with execution. Yes, he threw a lot of strikes, but where in the strikezone is what's troubling. He didn't have a cluster of fastballs on the corners, they were well distributed, including some very off the mark. Many of his sliders slipped and either went in the dirt (bad) or over the middle of the plate (worse). I don't think you can go based only on strikes/balls to determine Joba's success. I will be interested to see if anyone does a study of the pitch f/x data like some folks at THT did for Joba's first start.

2008-06-09 07:36:00
20.   Cliff Corcoran
12 Actually six of eight curves were called strikes per my post above.
2008-06-09 08:05:59
21.   ms october
19 thanks for the clairification.

i agree with your analysis.
i guess i am not expecting his execution to be that much superior just yet and have similar expectations as hce 11 .

but i will say that to me his slider is a big key - will people lay off that slider in the dirt and will he limit the number of sliders in the middle of the plate. i haven't analyzed it, but it seems like most of the hard hit balls he has given up this year and last were hanging sliders.

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