Using Fangraphs’ Pitch F/X data, it seems he’s throwing his slider more this year, and has virtually eliminated his change-up. But the change hasn’t been a valuable pitch for him, and was only really part of his repertoire last year when he was starting. And the fastball-slider combo is much more in line with what you’d expect from a short reliever. His fastball velocity is basically what it’s always been when he’s been used as a reliever, and his slider is even a little faster. The movement on his pitches is also not significantly different from where it’s been in years past. His walk rate is down from last year, and his strikeout rate, predictably is up to 9.99/9 innings. His HR/9 is also down in the neighborhood of where he’s been before.
No, the reason that Joba Chamberlain is struggling in 2010 can be traced back to one number: 399. As in, batters are hitting .399 on balls in play off of Joba. And that, boys and girls, is simply not sustainable. For one thing, BABIP that high are never sustainable. For another, as a team the Yankees are allowing a .286 BABIP this year. Chamberlain has, by 20 points, the highest BABIP of anyone on the staff with more than 4 IP. And in the majors? Joba has a higher BABIP than any other pitcher with more than 40 innings. Essentially, what this means is that Joba has been one of the unluckiest players in the major leagues. According to xFIP, his ERA should be a much more palatable 3.41 this year.
Yankee fans need to chill the hell out about Joba Chamberlain, and after the youngster rests for a day or two, Girardi needs to get the chubby kid back in the 8th inning. He basically is what he’s always been, a pitcher with dominant stuff who walks a few too many guys but generates a lot of ground balls. It would be nice if the Yankees would catch one of those grounders every now and again so you could see that.