Former New York Yankees star pitcher Joba Chamberlain has found a new home with the Detroit Tigers. Originally, Chamberlain signed with Detroit simply for a role. The Tigers surprised the baseball world by signing him last December. Only a month into the season, Chamberlain has found that role with Detroit quicker than he did in his entire stint with the Yankees.
Chamberlain is not the only pitcher in the bullpen who will be relied upon often as he shares spotlight with young flamethrower Bruce Rondon who is indeed out for the year due to a torn ligament in his elbow. With Rondon out for the entire season, Chamberlain will have to become the main ingredient holding the bullpen together. So far this season, Joba is arguably the most stable piece of Detroit's bullpen. According to mlb.com writer Jason Beck, Joba made the following statement after the Tigers recent 8-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox:
"I feel like that's the reason they brought me over here," Chamberlain said. "My goal was to get the ball to Joe [Nathan], and obviously we had to have some guys step up with Bruce going down, and that's obviously a big arm for us. But we have to step up."
Chamberlain has been as consistent as a manager could want out of a bullpen pitcher. He has allowed only three runs on eight hits over 9 1/3 innings, 11 appearances, and he has struck out 13 batters while walking only three. According to STATS, Chamberlain has thrown nearly 55 percent of his sliders in the strike zone this season -- compared with 44 percent last year -- yet gained a higher rate of swings and misses on it (more than half the swings). Even the sliders in the zone have drawn misses on 35 percent of the swings, compared to about a quarter of them last year.
The biggest improvement he has made was adjusting his slider. Joba in the past has made it very clear he would like to make his slider more efficient, more consistent, and of course for more strikes. Adding more velocity on his fastball was another issue he needed to improve and he has done that as well. It is early in the season, but if he continues to pitch this way he could end up becoming the pitcher he has been capable of being his entire career.
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