It’s no secret that Joba has been maddeningly bad at times this year. His ERA is an ugly 5.40 for the season, and over his last 18 outings it’s an even uglier 8.64. In 10 of his 35 games he’s allowed at least one Run, and in 5 of those 10 appearances he’s allowed 2 or more Runs. His WHIP stands at 1.50 and he has allowed 13 Walks and 37 Hits in his 33 1/3 innings pitched on the season. The only thing that’s been consistent about Joba this year has been his inconsistency. While his fastball velocity has been up (94.1) this year as compared to last, it hasn’t been a plus pitch for him (-1.5). His peripherals have been good, posting a K/9 of 9.99 and K/BB rate of 2.85. His sky-high .385 BABIP (.327 career) would lead some to believe he’s just been unlucky this year, but watching him pitch this year Yankee fans know it’s been a tale of two Jobas. The one who comes in and blows hitters away with ease and the other who has nothing, gets crushed and is lucky to escape an inning. He’s allowed one or more runs in roughly 1/3 of his appearances this year. You can live with that if he’s being used in the low leverage Chan Ho Park role or even the 7th inning Dave Robertson role, but not from your primary setup man.
But what to do? It’s easy to say ‘send him down to AAA’ or ‘demote him in the bullpen’, which is what his performance dictates. But then the question quickly follows who would take his place? The first candidate would be Damaso Marte, who’s been very good against Lefties (.517 OPS against) this year and so-so facing Righties (.817 OPS). After 2 mediocre, injury marred seasons with Marte I think the Yanks have come to the conclusion that they prefer to use him primarily against Lefty batters. Is there any help from AAA? Not Mark Melancon, who has given up 14 H, 10 BB, 14 K in his last 15.1 IP (h/t RAB). Jon Albaladejo has been great in Scranton this year, but the Yanks have wanted someone who can give them length, and that’s not him.
As much as I hate to say it, I think were stuck with Joba in this role barring a trade of some sort. When Joe Girardi says that they have to get him straightened out, it’s not because he’s happy with the bullpen this year, because he’s not. It’s because there really isn’t a suitable Plan B.
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