So Joba Chamberlain had yet another three inning start on Wednesday. While the overall numbers for this start were bad (3IP 3H 2R 1BB 3K) the sort of hide the improvement of this performance from the last two.
Joba had a bad first inning. He surrendered a lead-off home run to Jason Bartlett and then followed that with a Carl Crawford single. He managed to strike out Evan Longoria before walking Ben Zobrist and then allowing another single to Pat Burrell.
Then it seemed that Joba got mad. He struck out the next two batters and breezed through the next two innings with just 23 total pitches, including a very quick third inning with just nine pitches. His velocity also saw a jump, going from 91-92 in the first to 94-95 in the second and third innings.
I am a supporter of keeping Chamberlain as a starter. I believe that since he has always been a starter, he has the ability to succeed for 200 innings in that role every season. I also support the Yankees theory that his arm needs to be protected and that they should carefully watch his innings limit. Where I do not agree with the Yankees is in their methods to achieve this goal. It has not been fair to Chamberlain. He has lacked a structured schedule and to expect him to perform to the best of his abilities is just unfair.
The Yankees should have devised a better plan than what is in place now. The reality is that Chamberlain belonged in the minor leagues at the start of last season. He should of had his innings controlled at that level before he was brought to the majors for a full work load in June.
But the Yankees felt Chamberlain could handle the transition and were pressured by the knowledge that the bullpen would be much weaker without him. The same should have been the case this year. The plan should have been to limit his innings early in the season in the minors and then turn him loose in the second half.
They would have avoided all of these ridiculous discussions about him and his role if they had taken an even harder line when it came to his development.
The Yankees have been rightfully cautious with their young arms, they have merely been inefficient with the plans to protect those arms. Hopefully they have learned from their mistakes with Joba and Phil Hughes so they can apply those lessons to future arms like Zach McAllister and Manny Banuelos.