Joba's Fastball Issues

Courtesy of ESPN:

Chamberlain has been effective with two strikes; he has gotten hitters to chase his sharp slider out of the zone 53 percent of the time. Opponents are 2-for-21 with 11 strikeouts on two-strike counts. But getting to two strikes has been a problem, as Chamberlain has allowed a .424 batting average against and .667 slugging percentage on early counts.
A big reason is his fastball. Chamberlain can still air it out — he has hit 98 mph this season — but he doesn’t throw at max effort all the time as a starter. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 94.6 to 92.1 mph, but speed alone does not equate to effectiveness. He has struggled to throw heaters for strikes in his past two outings and has not gotten much movement on the pitch. Hitters have had no trouble putting the barrel of the bat on the middle of the ball lately.Opponents have put 53 percent of swung-on pitches in play, the sixth-highest in-play percentage in the league for righties who have thrown more than 200 pitches and a huge increase over Chamberlain’s 35 percent in-play rate last year.

Now, I am sure some will point at this and say that Joba needs to be in the bullpen so as to take advantage of his incredible skills. However, the neglected point here is that the decrease in velocity and movement on the fastball has little to do with his being in the rotation, as they are much lower than they were when he was a starter in 2008. Joba may be babying his previously injured shoulder or may just be getting loose as the season begins. Either way, he needs to recapture the electric fastball he had as a member of the rotation last season for him to succeed in any role. Without it, he is forced to use his slider earlier in counts, which means coming into the hitting zone with a pitch typically intended to move out of that zone. Joba cannot survive that way, and Dave Eiland needs to figure out what is going on before someone does something stupid and moves Chamberlain back to the bullpen.

0 thoughts on “Joba's Fastball Issues

  1. Tom Gaffney

    the problem is that Eiland HAS been working with him on “smoothing out his motion” (according to Leiter). That’s the REASON why he’s throwing 92 and not 95. They have changed his motion. My fear is that they did it because they feel that he can’t stay healthy as a starter with his old arm action and they had to change it. I don’t get it because he was healthy for just about a whole year in the minors as a starter and sitting 95-96. Just because he gets some tendinitis, they have to completely overhaul his whole motion? It doesn’t just change his heater, but he doesn’t get the same action on his slider, either. He has to go back to his old motion and see how it goes. This new, “smoothed out” motion is b.s. If he can’t stay healthy as a starter, then he can’t, and maybe in that case (and ONLY in that case) you put him in the pen, but you have to let Joba be Joba. He doesn’t have to throw all out all the time. He can sit 94-95 instead of the 98 he threw out of the pen, but you can’t change his whole motion – that’s just dumb.

  2. I think he’s holding back. Burnett spent a lot of time with him in ST preaching the Gospel of Halladay, to which AJ is a recent convert. That doctrine says you don’t really want to strike guys out, that its better to get quick outs with 2 seamers and such. It worked great for AJ, we’ll see about Joba.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Halladay and AJ still strike out plenty of batters. I think the philosophy is closer to “strikeouts are great and the ideal, but try to get them by pitching near the plate and focusing on movement rather than velocity to get quicker outs due to contact.”

    • Big difference is AJ hits 98 with little effort. Joba hits 98 with max effort.
      Joba needs to find that he can still hit mid 90’s without the max effort of 98. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Every once in a while hit the 98 FB, just to let them know it is still a weapon.
      Don’t use it , you lose it.

  3. jd

    I think that it is good that they are trying to smooth him out. The way he was working last year was terrific but with lots of wear and tear. Agree that he doesn’t look like same guy but let’s trust they know what they are doing. On another note, I am thriled for hughes. I hope that both of these guys can stay healthy for a few months. Could be very exciting. Any word on Wang’s velocity in Tampa?

  4. According to Gameday, Joba was hitting 95 in the 6th. Not sitting there albeit, but that’s still encouraging.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Definitely better. Averaged almost 93 MPH, and went up as the game went along. He seemed to loosen up too, which can only mean good things going forward.

  5. jd

    I would say that Joba put some concerns to rest tonight. Still saw some of the fastball control issues that you mentioned. But how great is this. Hughes and joba throw gems on two consequtive nights. Joba gets through 7 on 88 pitches. Melky and Cano seem to be back. Damon is Damon again. Posada and Matsui are hitting. Melancon enroute to fulfilling potential. The team should get through April with a winning record (first time in a while and despite bad Boston series) and the two best hitters on the team are not even in gear (one out so far, Arod). This is the team to beat.

  6. Leftylarry

    He looks like potentially a solid starting Pitcher.That’s all right now. Maybe a bit over rated.
    Lot’s of young pitchers in baseball I’d rather have right now.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Really? Making that judgement after a couple of starts? He was a top pitching prospect for a reason, and his stuff backs it up.