5 Detroit Tigers Bullpen Questions
By Matt Pelc
Mar 17, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain (44) throws a pitch during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Nationals won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
#3: Will we get the first half Joba or the second half Joba Chamberlain?
The Detroit Tigers made a surprise move when they brought Joba Chamberlain back late last month. It seemed as if the team and player were moving on from one another, but the reunion was consummated on the eve of Grapefruit League action kicking off.
It is a decent deal for the Tigers, one-year at $1 million with incentives, which is crazy considering how everyone thought Chamberlain looked like a genius by signing a one-year deal last year because it was assumed he’d make a fortunate on the open market. He had the beard, the Zubaz and was feeling it mid-year.
After a tough month of April, Chamberlain got hot from May until the All-Star break, reaching his lowest ERA of 2.40 on July 24. From there it was a struggle, ultimately finishing with a bloated ERA of 3.57.
When you look at his total numbers, such as the WHIP of 1.286, it was not that bad of a season, but the postseason is what will be remembered, allowing four earned runs against Baltimore in the ALDS. Coming on in the top of the eighth in pivotal Game 2, Joba blew a three-run lead handed to him by the Tigers’ bats and a solid two innings of relief from Anibal Sanchez.
Unbeknownst to nearly everyone was that while Chamberlain was struggling in the second half, he was dealing with health problems with his mother. In fact he often was flying back to his native Nebraska on off-days which could have negatively affected his performance.
Chamberlain is not in the running for setup man this year, a job that was slated to be Bruce Rondon’s but was thrust upon Joba after Rondon’s injury, so he will not be relied upon too heavily.
But with that said, he had better find success in any role Brad Ausmus puts him into. The one-year, relatively low cost incentive-laden deal will be really easy for the Tigers to bail out from under.
It is hard to tell what kind of season is afoot for Joba Chamberlain, but the Tigers’ will be much better with the good Joba.