Courtesy of ESPN:
Chamberlain has been effective with two strikes; he has gotten hitters to chase his sharp slider out of the zone 53 percent of the time. Opponents are 2-for-21 with 11 strikeouts on two-strike counts. But getting to two strikes has been a problem, as Chamberlain has allowed a .424 batting average against and .667 slugging percentage on early counts.
A big reason is his fastball. Chamberlain can still air it out — he has hit 98 mph this season — but he doesn’t throw at max effort all the time as a starter. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 94.6 to 92.1 mph, but speed alone does not equate to effectiveness. He has struggled to throw heaters for strikes in his past two outings and has not gotten much movement on the pitch. Hitters have had no trouble putting the barrel of the bat on the middle of the ball lately.Opponents have put 53 percent of swung-on pitches in play, the sixth-highest in-play percentage in the league for righties who have thrown more than 200 pitches and a huge increase over Chamberlain’s 35 percent in-play rate last year.
Now, I am sure some will point at this and say that Joba needs to be in the bullpen so as to take advantage of his incredible skills. However, the neglected point here is that the decrease in velocity and movement on the fastball has little to do with his being in the rotation, as they are much lower than they were when he was a starter in 2008. Joba may be babying his previously injured shoulder or may just be getting loose as the season begins. Either way, he needs to recapture the electric fastball he had as a member of the rotation last season for him to succeed in any role. Without it, he is forced to use his slider earlier in counts, which means coming into the hitting zone with a pitch typically intended to move out of that zone. Joba cannot survive that way, and Dave Eiland needs to figure out what is going on before someone does something stupid and moves Chamberlain back to the bullpen.
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