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Joba Can't Deliver Relief
Jonah Hecht
| June 4, 2008
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Last night's contest between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays was hyped as Joba Chamberlain's first major league start. It was supposed to reveal what is the answer for the Yankees in the years to come. Instead, it revealed the problems the Yankees have right now. Since Chamberlain was on a pitch count, he only went 2.1 innings, forcing the Yankee bullpen to pitch more than seven innings. That was a recipe for disaster, and disaster ensued. A bullpen that looked strong at the start of the year with Chamberlain pitching the eight and Mariano Rivera the ninth now looks supermodel thin without Chamberlain. Manager Joe Girardi wanted to make Kyle Farnsworth the eighth inning guy, but Girardi is finding out what every Yankee fan already knew- Farnsworth cannot be that guy. Thirteen year veteran LaTroy Hawkins does not have the velocity he used to, Russ Ohlendorf has not consistently shown he can be the dominant reliever the Yankees think he can be, and nobody would trust Jose Veras with a one run lead in a meaningful game. Edwar Ramirez, who had great numbers in the minors and had not given up an earned run until last week, got shelled last night. No matter how dominant Joba becomes and how hot the Yankee hitters get, the Yankees will not make the playoffs for the fourteenth straight season with this current bullpen. So is there any answer? The Yanks signed Billy Traber to a minor league deal in the offseason. Traber had been effective for Cleveland in the past, but he struggled early in the year in the majors. Some relievers should become available as teams drop out of the race, but rarely does a dominant reliever become available at the deadline. Even if one does, the Yanks will have to play well enough until then so that they are not totally out of the race by July 31. The press never hypes a reliever entering the game, but teams don't win championships without them.
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