Yankees

Joba Chamberlain: I’ve Proven That I Can Be A Starter, And I’m Capable Of Doing So

Joba Chamberlain (credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Joba Chamberlain (credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Joba Chamberlain the starter or Joba Chamberlain the reliever?

Oh no, not this debate again.

We’re afraid so.

The 27-year-old, currently a relief pitcher, said that he feels he can again be a starting pitcher for the Bronx Bombers.

“This is probably going to spark a bunch of stuff, and (Yankees PR director Jason) Zillo is going to be mad at me, but it’s one of those things where it’s like, do you think you have the capability to start? Yes,” Chamberlain told the New York Daily News.  “Do I have four pitches that I can throw for a strike? Yes. Do I have two-plus pitches in the bullpen that I can throw at any time? Yes.”

The sixth-year player hasn’t started in a game since 2009. He started 31 games for New York that season and went 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. In 2008, Chamberlain started 12 games and posted a 4-3 record with a 2.60 ERA.

Early in his career, one of the most talked-about topics in baseball was whether the Yankees should make Chamberlain a starter or a reliever. One school of thought was that with his electric stuff, he was wasted coming out of the bullpen. And yet another school of thought was that he would be the heir to Mariano Rivera as the closer. All these years later Rivera is still around, and Chamberlain has found himself in the middle, pitching seventh and eighth innings.

The right-hander has appeared in 122 games for the Yankees since the start of the 2010 season, all in relief.

“I guess I’m trying to have my cake and eat it, too,” Chamberlain told the newspaper. “I feel like I’m good enough to do both. I’ve proven that I can do both. Whatever it is, if I close, I want to be one or the other. I’ve been in the role of in the bullpen for a while, but am I confident that if I got the chance to start again somewhere — wherever that’s at — I could do it? Without a doubt.

“I just have to focus on this year and what I can do to improve to help this team win, continue to try to win ballgames for them.”

On March 22, 2012, Chamberlain injured his right leg in a freak trampoline accident. The result was an open dislocation of his ankle. He began the campaign on the 60-day disabled list and didn’t make his season debut until August 1.

In 22 games last season, the fireballer pitched to a 4.35 ERA in 20 2/3 innings pitched. He recorded 22 strikeouts and walked six.

Uh-oh, not this issue again. We’ll ask you once, Yankees fans, and then we’ll put it to rest: Is Joba better suited for the bullpen or the starting rotation? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…