[I wrote this post after Friday's lost and Moshe agreed I should post it here]
1) Today’s loss is as much on the offense leaving the bases loaded with no one out and not scoring as it is on the bullpen, and
2) This is NOT a post about what ails Joba.
This is a post about whether Joba, as he is pitching right now, should be pitching the eighth inning in high leverage spots.
If you’re reading this, you probably know what happened: AJ Burnett pitched six and two-thirds innings of shut out baseball, and the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the eighth, where Joba subsequently went IMPLODE!, and the Yankee offense couldn’t score for Mariano or D-Rob before Chan Ho Park did the whole Chan D’oh Park thing.
Ultimately, the crucial point of the game occurred late in the game, as the Yankees looked to hold on to their 1-0 lead.
Now, we can rehash the leverage argument–use your best pitcher in the highest leverage situations–all we want, and argue that maybe Mariano could have pitched the eighth inning and let Joba face the bottom of the lineup in the ninth, but that said look at the hitters Joba faced in the eighth (John Buck led off the ninth inning, so go from there).
Guys that are hitting .205 and .192 should not reach base period, if you are your team’s eighth inning guy.
I get that pitchers slump, have good outings and bad outings, but ask yourself this: Game 7 of the World Series, in 1-0 game the Yankees are winning, who’s coming on to pitch the eighth inning?
If we set aside for the minute the answer that “it’s probably Mariano, with everything on the line and nothing to lose”, then the answer right now becomes Joba.
So tell me, are you comfortable, in that situation, with Chamberlain on the mound?
I’m sure you remember the spectacular implosions of four or five runs against Boston and Cleveland, but what happens if we go saber about the whole things?
One thing we can look at is a player’s WPA, which is simply the probability that a player adds to his team’s chance of winning that game. Positive is good, negative is bad. Fairly simple concept even if the calculation is somewhat complex.
If we look at Joba’s game logs, we see that, prior to day, Joba had a negative WPA in 8 of 34 games.
That is, just over a quarter of all of Joba’s appearances have negatively affected the game’s outcome for the Yankees.
Joba’s not the only pitcher with a string of negative WPA marks–for example, David Robertson has 10 in 27 games, which is also very not good, but whereas Robertson’s negative WPA averages -0.069, Joba’s averages -0.195. In plain English, when Joba fails, he fails worse.
Of course, since Joba generally pitches later in the game, which often involves higher leverage situations, his failures would more adversely affect the outcome of the game than pitching poorly in a low leverage situation in the sixth inning, but I digress.
How confident are you if the pitcher on the mound is actually hurting the team in a quarter of all of his appearances?
Another way to look at it: In , batters are hitting .317/.356/.488 /.843 against Joba, and if you do that over the course of a season, you’re probably getting some votes for the All Star team unless you play the same position as Pujols or Jeter.
You will perhaps notice that Joba actually walks more in low leverage situations, but don’t be fooled: the more runners you put on base, the more likely that low leverage situation will become a self made high leverage situation.
Well, you say, if not Joba in the eighth inning, then who?
I’ll go back to the oft-repeated argument that high leverage = best pitcher and stick to that–if the eighth inning is the most crucial part of your game thus far, use Mariano if you’ve got him, because the ninth doesn’t matter if you can’t get through the eighth first. If the eighth inning is not that crucial high leverage situation, and you can afford to live with Joba’s nibbling, such as it may be, then fine, go ahead–but once the low leverage becomes high leverage, it looks like it becomes a roll of the dice.
Like every Yankee fan, I wish I could tell you how to fix Joba. I can’t. I can only hope, then, that somehow, by the time September and October roll around, we’ll be able to look back at this post, and laugh, in the good way.
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