Saturday, June 14, 2008

Joba rules ... seriously

The Joba Chamberlin Project has now taken on full form, and the results are exciting to say the least.

The right-hander has officially graduated from awkward scientific experiment to full-fledged starting pitcher. Yesterday against Houston: six innings, six hits (all singles), one run, two strikeouts, four walks (two intentional). The numbers themselves don't blow you away, but it was great to see he gave the Yankees his first legitimate start, one that didn't involve Dan "Don't Call Me Don" Geiss or Ross Olendorf pitching by the fifth inning.

Best of all, his 88th and final pitch of the night was a 97-mph fastball that caught Astros catcher Brad Ausmus looking. Seeing Hoss impact the direction of an entire game, as opposed to just one inning, showed why he needs to be a starter on this team. That he has five out pitches, and isn't losing velocity as the game goes along, makes that even more clear.

Don't call him an ace yet, because that's going to take time. Joba is sure to have the same growing pains the best pitchers had at 22. That said, he has a 2.84 ERA as a starter and it's quite possible the Yankees have a kid that's stepping into the rotation instantly competitive and sometimes even dominant. I don't have to tell you how rare this is.

It may have seemed a bit unorthodox at times, but the Yankees did a good job during this whole transition thing. Over the course of a month, Joba went from setup man to starter and it has never felt forced. They won four of the five games he appeared in during the stretch. It's reporteed his next start will be topped at 100 pitches, but Joe Girardi basically said after the game it's now a judgment issue over pitch count, i.e., just like any other pitcher in his rotation.

It's a very short list of guys who I never want to miss pitch. When Roger Clemens first came to the Yankees, he was one. When I was in school in Boston, Pedro starts were required viewing. Now comes Chamberlain, a kid with all the promise in the world taking the ball every fifth day for a team that desperately needs an X-factor.

Must-see-TV, indeed.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Joba really looked poised out there. Very nice to see. Hopefully this team is starting to come around. The major hurdle is going to be getting Cano right. And I think you're correct with getting a guy up there to push him...Joe knows it to. Which is why they sent Duncan down for Gonzales. Girardi will say it was because they need more of a utility guy for interleague and obviously Shelly hasn't been good....but you know he wants to give Cano a little shot in the arm by playing Gonzales a few times here and there. Robinson is going to have to be good if they want to play in October.