How Joba's return was a successAlthough hit hard, his performance came in an optimal environment
On Wednesday, his welcome back from Major League hitters wasn’t as friendly; even though his velocity touched the mid-90s and he threw 16 of his 28 pitches for strikes, Chamberlain was hit hard by the Orioles – allowing two runs on four hits and one walk in 1 2/3 innings – and the first contact made against him ended up in the left field seats.
But you know what? That’s okay…and in fact, it’s probably for the better.
While you will never hear a Major Leaguer say they were “going through the motions,” Wednesday’s game was the perfect spot for Joe Girardi to put Joba in the game and let it rip. The Yankees had an 11-1 lead when Chamberlain entered, meaning that there was, for all intents and purposes, no pressure for him to come in and be dominant.
Sure, the line may not be pretty, but again, he mixed all of his pitches in, and after the home run to Hardy, he got four ground balls (even if two of them found holes) to get out of the seventh inning further unscathed. Then, in the eighth, after a walk to Mark Reynolds and a hard-hit RBI double by Endy Chavez, he got two straight outs hit at shortstop Jayson Nix before being replaced by Clay Rapada.
So yes, all in all, he wasn’t perfect, and he wasn’t even necessarily solid. But after nearly 14 months off and exactly 30 pitches above A-ball in his rehab, Wednesday’s appearance was a solid first step in the return of Joba Chamberlain, as he was able to relax, make his pitches, and work out the kinks so to speak in a situation that even the hardest of scribes would describe optimally as mop-up work.
The Yankees clearly felt he was ready to return when he was activated, and they want (and need) Chamberlain to be a key piece of the late-inning mix and boost a bullpen that has seen three of its six other current denizens make at least 45 appearances in the first 104 games.
Based on his first appearance, Joba surely knows he’s still somewhat of a work in progress and the initial few outings might not be easy – but hopefully, with that progress in motion, his confidence will be boosted and he can be exactly that boost for the Yankees in August and September.
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