Thursday, December 12, 2013

Joba Headed to Tigertown

Joba looked like Oliver Hardy, but pitched like Stan Laurel.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday morning that Joba Chamberlain and the Detroit Tigers agreed to terms on a free agent deal. ESPN's Buster Olney later added the details, one year at $2.5MM. He'll serve as a set up man for another free agent signee, Joe Nathan.

Chamberlain's days as a Yankee came to a close when the team didn't make him a qualifying offer after the end of the 2013 season. It meant the end of a career in pinstripes - one that took off like a rocket on lift off, but peaked early and then nosedived back to Earth.

In between there was Tommy John surgery, rules, midges, triple digit fastballs, nasty sliders, a DUI and a related insult of Yogi Berra, a "shush" incident with Mariano Rivera, a trampoline mishap, numerous cans of Red Bull, a cheesy mustache, a great father/son story, and non-maximized potential.

It didn't get much better for Chamberlain after his 2007 debut. Yankees fans had heard about the blazing fastball and a great arsenal of pitches, but seeing was believing.

The Yankees needed bullpen help in the summer of 2007 so the former first round pick (41st overall in 2006) was recalled from the minors. He made his debut at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on August 7 and threw two scoreless innings in a 9-2 Yankees win. Nervous, excited, and amped up, he walked two and struck out two.

Two days later he struck out four of the six batters he faced. The legend of Joba was born. He pitched 24 innings in his first season with a remarkable 34 strikeouts and six walks. He allowed a single earned run for a 0.38 ERA, won a couple of games and picked up his first Major League save. The "Joba Rules" were also instituted to protect his arm, but they didn't have much of impact until the following season.

He pitched out of the pen to begin and end the 2008 season with 12 starts in between. A year later he was a full-time starter, but couldn't match his prior success. From there it was injuries and ineffectiveness to the point that he couldn't be trusted in key situations.

Now he's got a clean slate with Tigers' first year manager Brad Ausmus.

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