Previously, I found the “middle ground” of projections for Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner. Now, I think it’s time that I did the same for a pitcher. I’ll be using the same process that I did for the hitters: averaging out the projections on the FanGraphs page–CHONE, Marcel, Bill James, and the Fans–and seeing where we end up. This afternoon, I’ll be looking at Joba Chamberlain.

Joba Chamberlain

This year, we’ll finally see Chamberlain without much (if any) of a harness. He pitched over 150 innings in 2009, and even if he had a limit in 2010, it likely wouldn’t matter. Chamberlain is going to be the fifth starter and the chances that he gets to 180 are pretty slim. Anyway, let’s look at what we’ll be able to expect from Joba this year.

153.5 IP, 154 H, 70 ER, 17 HR, 66 BB, 152 SO, 4.10 ERA, 1.4332 WHIP, 8.81 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 2.3 K/BB, 3.95 FIP.

That’s the average projection for Chamberlain’s 2010 and I would definitely take that. The WHIP is still a little high, but I think it’s being thrown off by the Fan projection of 175 hits in 159 innings. Is it just me or does that seem like a strange projection? Regardless of that, if Chamberlain can pitch to a 4.10 ERA an a 3.95 FIP as the number five starter, the Yankees will most definitely be in good shape.

Some may see this projection and think “So? That’s not very good. This guy’s supposed to be an ace, right?” To those people I say this: be patient. In general, one does not simply become an ace after one full season of starting. Yeah, sure, Tim Lincecum did it, but he’s the big exception, not the rule. In 2010, Chamberlain will finally be un-tinkered around with for the first time in his professional career. The days of his innings limits are over. He won’t be relieving. He won’t be doing anything on the mound, except starting games.

With all young players and pitchers, there is a growing process that needs to take place, and it usually takes several seasons. Perhaps with Chamberlain, we forgot this. The way he rose through the minor league system in 2007 and the way he pitched in 2008 made us lose our heads. Those events made us think this guy was already polished and totally ready to step into the ace’s shoes. We were wrong. However, that doesn’t mean we need to give up on this guy just because he struggled in his first go around as a full-time starter.

There are many out there, both in the mainstream media and the Yankee blogosphere who would have us believe that 2009 was a negative for Chamberlain and that it proves he cannot be a big-time starter in the major leagues. As of right now, they are wrong. Last year was a success for Chamberlain because he stayed healthy and finally amassed a good number of innings. Those two things were the things the “Joba Rules” were designed to give Chamberlain in 2009. Some assumed that because of those rules, Chamberlain would have instant success.

No, the “Joba Rules” were not designed to guarantee results. They were designed to attempt to guarantee health and longevity and, if nothing else, the Yankees got those two things from Chamberlain in 2009. Along with those tangible things, Chamberlain was also allowed to “learn on the job,” so to speak, and mature against Major League pitching. That experience, along with the innings he pitched, will invariably help him as he moves forward in 2010.

Joba’s development is moving along, but is not done yet. I still believe that Joba Chamberlain has the talent and skill to become a front line starter. As of right now, he is on the path to “acehood”; now, all he needs to do is walk down that road.

11 Responses to “Finding a Middle Ground: Joba Chamberlain”

  1. I think the biggest thing for Joba will be if his fastball comes back. Last year he had one of the worst fastballs (statistically) in the league. I know a lot of this was because he kept falling behind hitters and having to throw meatballs but the velocity to make up for that just wasn’t there last season. He still has one of the best sliders in the game so I think it’s just a matter of stamina over the whole season.

    I completely agree that the fans hits projections are downright crazy. They’re predicting a .346 BABIP which is insane.

    If his fastball comes back I think there’s a very good chance Bill James’ 3.75 FIP could be close and I’ll take that out of my fifth starter any day.  (Quote)

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  2. I’d also like to note that the fans have Joba appearing in 50 games and STARTING 39. Apparently, Joba will oftentimes have to come in to pinch hit for the noodle-bat Gardner late in games as well as starting on three days rest for most of the season.  (Quote)

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  3. Matt, you’re my hero. If you look at CC, his numbers weren’t overwhelming at an early age. Same with Halladay. Same with Carpenter, etc… Not everyone is Tim Lincecum. Heck, even King Felix had some rough patches. Everyone in NY wants stars from the minors. Give the kid time to grow.  (Quote)

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  4. I’d like to see 20 more innings. Other than that, if he has a full, uninterrupted by bullpen, season at an ERA near 4, I think that would represent a major step forward and put him back on his track towards being a top of the rotation guy.  (Quote)

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  5. If he pitches 180ish innings at a 4 ERA, he’s one of the best probably 15-20 pitchers in the AL. I’d be MORE than happy with that kind of production  (Quote)

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  6. Cuz of the “Joba Rules” I think the Yankees owe it to Joba to start him as the fifth starter going into this season. And polish up Hughes with the same rules so that Hughes can take over for Javy next year and maybe Cliff Lee to take over Andy.  (Quote)

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    Chip Reply:

    CC, Lee, AJ, Joba and Hughes could be crazy good next year. Plus, you’re probably upgrading draft slots by signing Lee and offering arb to Javy plus getting the supplemental pick. How crazy is that?  (Quote)

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    AT Reply:

    That would be insane. This is why I try and try and try to get people to see. By going young and develope with in, you will pay close to nothing for young players such as Joba and Hughes for almost their prime years and still go out and get that elite player to fill in the holes.

    Plus the Yankees won’t need to over spend because they have someone in the minors who can do just a good of job as the player leaving or is available. Then hold onto that free money and wait it out the following year and get that Young prime time player (example:: Tim Lincy, Mauer, Puljos, etc). A young stud player from free agency plus the Yankees young stud who isn’t getting paid much = WOW!!!!!  (Quote)

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    Jamal G. Reply:

    I really don’t see Brian Cashman committing an AAV of ~$20M to three starting pitchers on the wrong side of 30 for three-plus years.  (Quote)

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  7. I’m concerned by Joba’s loss of velocity as a starter. I think there’s a good chance we see Hughes win the 5th spot and Joba as the setup (groomed to take over as closer when Mariano retires).

    IMO, this plays more to his strengths; his trademark all out ferocious attack with a mid-high 90’s fastball (in short spurts) and a devastating slider followed by the legendary fist pump…………not the low 90’s lamb I saw as a starter. :-I  (Quote)

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  8. Note to Joba;
    Go pitch, just as though you were in the BP…you have 4 days to rest up for your next start. Give the team 6+ innings every time and you are a good starter. As I was once told; “just, do it!”  (Quote)

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