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Joba, Descending Expectations

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Frankie Piliere of AOL Fanhouse:

Chamberlain just isn't as aggressive as he once was on the mound. We used to see him explode through the finish in his delivery and be able to drive the ball down in the zone. Now, he doesn't appear to be finishing his pitches with the same aggression and in turn isn't generating the same velocity. When Chamberlain was moved into the rotation, he toned down his delivery so he wasn't so maximum-effort and could pace himself. The problem is he still seems to be pitching with that same approach, and still appears to be pacing himself. Why that is the case is difficult to tell for sure. Since experiencing shoulder problems perhaps he just isn't as willing to let the ball fly, or maybe it just isn't there.

I've been meaning to hunt down video to write up this article for a week, and it looks like I'm just not going to get there.

I believe Joba's shoulder and/or his confidence was damaged when pain in his shoulder ended his 2008 season.

It could be that 100 mph fastball is gone, just like Tim Lincecum's.

Or it could be that Joba has made the self serving and entirely rational decision to hold back - to throw less violently in hopes of staying in the major leagues long enough to make the multi-million dollars that would change his family's life for generations.  That's what I would do, if I had the talent to spare. It could be Joba is just doing everything possible to stay on the field, to live the dream.

I'm glad for Phil Hughes: his last outing put him back in the spotlight he's always been heir to. He was always the top prospect, the wunderkind, the future ace.  A series of injuries (hammy, then ribs) shifted focus away from him while rehabbed.

But I can't help regretting what has happened to Joba; I can't help wondering if it was inevitable (as many scouts said when he was drafted).  His diminished stuff is still enough to make him an elite reliever, at the level of Papelbon, Nathan and K-Rod.  But I have to believe that his return to the bullpen this season is his final stop.