Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Joba Question

Joba Chamberlain lost another game last night for the Yankees. Javier Vazquez pitched brilliantly for seven innings without giving up a run and turned the ball over to Chamberlain with a 1-0 lead. These are the kinds of games that last year, the Yankees always won. This year has been an adventure. Chamberlain came in and promptly gave up four runs on a grand slam and the Yankees lost 4-1. It was Joba's fourth loss, all in relief. The big question is whether the Yankees can go as far as they want to go with Joba bridging the gap between the starter and Rivera? The answer has a surprising conditional answer.

Joba Chamberlain is facing what happens to relief pitchers who have bad outings. The lack of innings compiled allow a couple of bad outings to blow up their ERAs. Joba still has 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He still has an almost three to one strikeout to walk ratio. He has given up 39 hits in 36.1 innings pitched, which is too high for a high power relief pitcher. But his BABIP for this season is .369 which shows that he's unlucky so far. Last night's grand slam was the first homer he's allowed all season.

Regular readers of this blog are going to groan at this next statement because the Fan has harped on this all year. Part of Joba's problem depends on who is catching him. Yeah, there is a difference when Chamberlain pitches to Cervelli and when he pitches to Posada. When Joba pitches to Cervelli he has a 3.71 K/BB ratio. When he pitches to Posada, that figure drops to 2.33. Joba's OPS against is .649 with Cervelli and .766 with Posada. This simply continues a trend that is over two years long which the Fan has proven over and over again.

And what about Javier Vazquez's beautiful performance last night? Is it a coincidence that it occurred because Cervelli started the game behind the plate? No. Vazquez has a 3.28 ERA pitching to Cervelli and a 7.52 ERA pitching to Posada. It's not a coincidence. The Yankees have to know this stuff right? Do they have high powered statisticians in their organization? This Fan doesn't know. But either way, the evidence is overwhelming.

The Yankees will win if their pitching holds up. Plain and simple. The playoffs and World Series are all about who pitches better. The Yankees have spent millions to get the pitching they need. So why then do they throw that pitching to a catcher who doesn't do them any favors? If the Yankees would want to maximize their pitching, then put Cervelli as the number one catcher and put Posada at DH without delay. There are questions on whether Cervelli can hit long term. Doesn't matter. They need to pitch well and they will have enough offense.

Oh, and in case you think this is a new phenomenon, remember the first time Vazquez pitched for the Yankees? Remember how that didn't go so well? That was 2004 in case you've forgotten. That year, Vazquez pitched 28 times to Posada. His ERA was 5.23 in those games. He pitched five games to John Flaherty in 2004. His ERA in those games was 3.31.

So where did this post go wrong? It probably got lost because this is a subject that frosts the Fan's hide like no other because it is so obvious. If this writer can at least finish it up with Joba and tie the post up in a bow, that would be nice. Okay, here goes: Joba has had a few bad outings, but his stats are still impressive and he can still dominate. Stick with him (as there are few other options out there anyway) and at the very least, bring Cervelli in for a defensive replacement in the late innings and things will work out just fine.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Posada is a great offensive catcher, probably headed to Cooperstown. But he's evidently not very good at putting down numbers.