Bad Luck Joba?

July 23, 2010 – 1:11 pm

After reading this Bloomberg Sports analysis of Joba Chamberlain’s performance so far this year, and then watching him pitch the eighth inning last night, I’m maybe thinking there is something to this idea that Joba isn’t really pitching as poorly as his “standard” stats would indicate — and by that, I mean the 5.66 ERA, the 1-4 WL, the 1.60 WHIP, and the .300 BAA. But if you look at some of his “advanced” stats, it’s a bit different story. For example, his FIP is 2.68, second only to Mariano Rivera amongst the regular pitchers. His K/9 ratio is 10.02, second best on the team, and his BB/9 ratio isn’t all that bad either at 3.48. And if you believe the theory of BABIP, then a lot of his problems this year are a result of just bad luck — as his BABIP this season is .405 compared to his career average of just .331. Lots of balls are falling in for hits that normally would not.

Last night’s outing, it seems to me, was pretty typical of these numbers and of his season so far. The first batter he faced crushed a ball to deep right field — it did stay in the park, but it also made you wince, thinking here we go again. And then the next two batters got on base with infield singles. You have to chalk those up to bad luck for sure. And then with one out and runners at first and second, he struck out Ankiel and with both runners going on the pitch, Jorge Posada threw out the lead runner at third and Joba should have been out of the inning. But the ump missed the call, and Joba proceeded to walk the next batter to load the bases. At that point the score was only 6-4, so now a single ties the game and puts the go-ahead run in scoring position. And that seems to be how it’s gone for Joba this year — two infield hits, a walk, and a blown call and he’s on the verge of blowing yet another game. Fortunately he got out of the inning by getting the next batter to ground out — but just another two feet in one direction and that grounder becomes a single, and it’s a totally different outcome. And that seems to be the way it’s gone for Joba so often this year. This time he just flirted with disaster, but in reality he pitched far better than what the results would indicate.

Bottom line is that I’m going to start cutting Joba some slack for a while, and see if maybe his luck does take a turn for the better. With the starting pitching reeling right now, it sure would be nice to see that happen!

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