With the New York Yankees’ middle relief being suspect to some struggles, a former Bomber could prove to benefit the unit.
Could the New York Yankees use a Joba-time encore?
According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, right-handed reliever Joba Chamberlain is working out, throwing and desires a contract for 2017, according to his agent, Jim Murray.
You know, the guy that was taken in the 1st round of the 2006 amateur draft by New York. Rose to fame with his electric fastball, swooping slider, and fist pumps but earned a fraudulent Bronx legacy thanks to the “Joba Rules.”
From 2007 to 2011, Chamberlain maintained a 3.70 ERA in 193 total games and struck out 386 batters in 382 innings of work (9.1 K/9).
Control was always an issue for the kid who made his debut at 21-years old, but in his last two years as a member of the Yankees, he walked 4.6 batters and surrendered 10.5 hits per nine innings.
Chamberlain’s 4.74 ERA didn’t help either, as his career in New York ended with his exit to the Motor City.
After one solid year with the Tigers (109 ERA+ in 2014), Joba struggled in 2015 and with a brief yet inadequate stint with Kansas City, as he surrendered five runs in his only 5.2 innings of work. His 13 earned runs in 12 minor league innings also didn’t help his case to hold a major league roster spot.
Then, just last season, the American League champions gave him a shot and Joba shined.
Chamberlain had a 2.25 ERA in 20 appearances while striking out 18 before being released by the Indians on July 10. After that, he did not sign with any team but plans to bring that production to a team that presents him a chance to do so.
This stellar play doesn’t look like a fluke either. According to Brook’s Baseball, opponent’s isolated power off Chamberlain’s slider in 2016 declined to .156 from .321 the year before.
Plus, his 214 ERA+ was the highest it was since 2007 when he burst to the scene as an absolute phenom with his 100 m.p.h. fastball and 0.38 ERA.
Could the team that gives him his next chance be the Yankees?
Given the fact that this team is more than one move away from being playoff-caliber, the middle relief which was wretched for the entirety of 2016 needs to be bolstered if New York plans to content come 2017.
If Brian Cashman inks a top tier closer to a deal, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren would slide down into the middle-relief unit and will be joined by Tommy Layne, Richard Bleier, and other options like Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Ben Heller, Nick Rumbelow, Johnny Barbato and more.
Many words come to mind when describing this name as a group and while some are experienced and reliable, inefficient and unstable are the three words that represent them most fittingly.
Keep in mind: middle relief isn’t priority No. 1 here but certainly an area of concern.
Is banking on a Chamberlain return a risk? Absolutely. But so was taking on Nick Swisher to see what he has left in the tank. Why not the same for Joba?
Unlike Swish, he’s coming off some modern success rather than utter decline and in no way, shape, or form would the Yankees be attached to anything “long-term” here.
A simple Spring Training invite or minor league deal would do. He only made $1 million in 2016, and he could get that if he’s in shape to compete at a high level in 2017.
So again, is there a risk? Yeah, but it’s probably the greatest case of “low-risk, high reward” we’ve ever seen. Given the fact he is (or used to be) a fan-favorite couldn’t hurt, either.